City can do more for car sharing

New Westminster councillor Jonathan Coté thinks there
New Westminster councillor Jonathan Coté thinks there's more that can be done to attract car sharing services to the city. Vancouver-based car co-op Modo currently has six vehicles stationed in New Westminster, and two parking stalls in a private lot at the west end of the River Market.

New Westminster is one of the best-served cities for transit in the Lower Mainland.

But there’s still more the city could do to encourage car-free living, says Coun. Jonathan Coté.

That’s why he presented a motion to council on Monday calling for the city to develop a strategy and policy to increase car sharing options in the city, and to identify barriers that are keeping car sharing operators from putting their vehicles in New West.

Coté says New Westminster’s ready access to transit and dense population makes it an excellent location for car sharing services. But a parking spot in Sapperton the city designated for car sharing had to be abandoned because it was always being occupied by illegal parkers.

The car co-op Modo has six vehicles in New West and a couple of designated parking spots set aside in the private lot at the west end of River Market.

Hilary Henegar, Modo’s marketing director, says changes to parking bylaws in Vancouver, which created a special designation that allowed car sharing vehicles to park for free in any resident or permit parking spot has been the main reason for the co-op’s growth in that city.

“It creates an incentive to not drive your own personal vehicle,” says Henegar.

She says as developers take advantage of municipal incentives to include car sharing as amenities in new buildings, they’re also becoming more popular in the suburbs.

Coté says parking bylaws and working with developers are among the ideas he’d like New Westminster to explore to increase car sharing options for residents.

“I want to open the discussion,” says Coté. “I think there’s significant demand.”

That’s been Modo’s experience, says Henegar.

Since one resident’s enthusiasm to sign up new members first got the co-op to expand its service to New West in 2012, Henegar says the city “has been a really fast growing area for us.”

Coté is convinced that growth could be accelerated if the city plays a part.

“Car sharing has filled a big void,” says Coté of people who are choosing to eschew owning their own car.

“It’s far more efficient and gives people options.”


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