Guest Post: Nanaimo’s Carsharing History
Modo member Ian Gartshore is one of the organizers of the Nanaimo Welcome potluck on June 25th. As an early carsharing adopter and longterm volunteer for Co-operative Auto Network and later Nanaimo Carshare, he knows the history of carsharing in Nanaimo inside and out!
On Earth Day 1997 in Victoria, I happened across a table advertising the benefits of carsharing. I had never heard of this concept and it immediately interested me as I was now, by choice, without a motor vehicle—but sometimes needed one. I was pleased when a loyal group of interested individuals joined together to see how we could bring carsharing to Nanaimo. The organisers included Chad Henderson, Susana Michaelis, Mary Peters, Esta and Andy Rowe, Helen Martin, Joyce Scotton and Kari Fetherston.
While we were resourceful and dedicated, we were also struggling about out how to practically make carsharing work in Nanaimo. We fanned out all over the city with some brochures, initially interesting some on Protection Island and the downtown area. Carsharing was not known and we were ahead of the curve. In 2000, the group agreed to join forces with the Co-operative Auto Network, or CAN for short. It was a wise decision.
On April 24th, 2000, a 4-door 1995 Toyota Tercel, complete with a bike rack, was delivered to Nanaimo. At that time CAN was only 3 years old, but already had 27 cars and 460 members; they’d rebrand to Modo in 2011. The active membership in Nanaimo was only about a dozen, with two drivers principally utilising the vehicle. Eventually, as the membership began to grow, the fleet was expanded to two vehicles.
When it became necessary to start our own co-op, Modo gave us a great deal of support then, and since. Through the very able involvement of Kurt Fischer (who had started a carsharing service in the U.S. before moving to Nanaimo) and several dedicated folk, we launched the Nanaimo Carshare Co-op in 2011 with just one downtown vehicle, again in the month of April. It wasn’t easy, but our efforts soon began to pay off!
The co-op grew remarkably well under the leadership of several very capable individuals and enthusiastic members. In six years it grew to six vehicles in two cities.
Once again in the month of April the membership decided to close the co-op. Modo was welcomed back to Nanaimo on May 1st of this year and we look forward to many more years of sharing on the Island.