Community CarShare History
Community CarShare was founded in April 1998 by a group of 10 friends who wanted to save money and drive less by sharing a car. It was the first carsharing organization in Ontario, and it was originally known as (and is incorporated as) The People’s Car Co-operative Inc., or just People’s Car Co-op. After a year of figuring out logistics, the group of friends invited the public to join their co-op in June 1999. Over the next year, membership grew to 18 members sharing two vehicles.
Beginning in May 2000, the co-op focused on developing partnerships and securing funding for an 18-month project called Moving to Cleaner Air. With nearly $100,000 in grants secured, the co-op was able to hire two part-time staff in January 2001. By August, membership had reached 35, with four cars in the fleet.
While the Moving to Cleaner Air project brought 23 new members and funded the first staff members for the co-op, 2002 also had its challenges. Revenue stagnated after three and a half years of growth, and the co-op moved to having only one part-time staff person, so the board adjusted to taking on roles staff had previously performed.
Two years later, the co-op’s Moving to Sustainability project had secured $125,000 in funding from various agencies, allowing the co-op to move from one half-time staff person to two full-time staff. By 2005, the co-op had 140 members and eight vehicles, and an online reservation system with integrated electronic invoicing.
In Fall 2007, the co-op expanded its service into Cambridge when it added a tenth vehicle to the fleet. As part of the growth into Cambridge, the organization updated its operating name from The People’s Car Co-op to Grand River CarShare, to reflect the environmental benefits of carsharing and to localize the name of the co-op.
In April 2009, the co-op’s geographic borders expanded again when a group of Hamiltonians decided to join the co-op and expand service to that city under the co-op’s second operating name, Hamilton CarShare. In less than five months, 50 new members were recruited, and three vehicles were launched in Hamilton in September 2009.
In November 2009, the co-op moved from two full-time staff to three full-time staff, and to four full-time staff in March 2011. As of Spring 2012, the co-op’s membership had grown to 550 members, double what it had been three years prior, and the co-op had a fleet of 18 cars. Another 200 members joined throughout the Summer, as the co-op worked on updating and growing the fleet. The co-op also began phasing in a new operating name for all service areas – Community CarShare – just in time for its 15th anniversary in 2013.
As of Spring 2013 the co-op has 850 members and operates a fleet of 34 vehicles. The co-op added service to Elmira on March 1, 2013 and to Guelph on May 1, 2013. The co-op also just completed upgrading to an in-car technology and Smart Card access system for the fleet, eliminating the need for members to fill out a trip log after each reservation.