Low-income families benefit from carsharing program

‘Next step is to build a permanent program says project co-ordinator

The architects behind a two-year carsharing pilot project that provided cheap access to vehicles for low-income families in southeast Calgary are aiming to create a permanent operation.

The Greater Forest Lawn Community Carsharing project spearheaded by the Arusha Centre charged significantly lower rates to rent vehicles than existing carsharing operations.

“Traditionally carsharing has been a very urban operation and marketed towards urban professionals who are making a conscious decision to not own a car for environmental reasons” says Corrine Younie project co-ordinator. “The people who could really use carsharing end up in the lower-income housing that’s farther away from services.”

While carsharing is typically thought of as a way to reduce carbon emissions it can also be used to reduce poverty and social isolation says Younie. “These days a lot of people can’t afford a car so how do they take their kids to the doctor or get to the grocery store?” she asks. “There’s a lot of things that you occasionally need a car to do and carsharing provides access to people who can’t afford one.”

The project relied heavily on charitable donations was cost intensive and economically unsustainable says Younie. “The next step is to build something that is still accessible to low-income families that generates enough revenue that it is not dependent on charitable funding” she says.