Skip the Restaurant, not the Romance – Five Thrifty Valentine’s Day Dates

Let’s be real for a minute; the whole chocolate, flowers and a scheduled seating with a prix fixe restaurant menu is a tad overdone. Whether you and your S.O. are new lovebirds or seasoned V-day veterans there is something to be said for blazing your own trail! So if you are on a budget, hate the crowds, or are just looking for something outside the box this Valentine’s Day – check out these five thrifty date night ideas that won’t break the bank.

1.  Couples Yoga

Typically, yoga is an individual practice but there can be added benefits to doing it with another person. Couples yoga uses the power of touch to promote communication, deepen intimacy and create a shared experience on a physical level. There is an increased connection when you share in breathing exercises and mutual poses that will get your heart rates going and start your Valentines day off right.

2. Volunteer Together

If you are looking to try something different this year, try doing something selfless with your partner. Volunteer at a local soup kitchen, or help sort donations at your favourite food bank. Participating in an activity that gives back to the community will help you see your spouse in a different light, as well as giving you the emotional satisfaction of helping those in need.

3. Head Outside and Enjoy Winter

It can be difficult to want to bundle up and head out in to the winter weather this time of year but there are a variety of great winter activities to enjoy. Whether you go out chasing (frozen) waterfalls, cross-country skiing, or simply head to a skating rink, winter exercise can increase your endorphin levels which is good for fighting those winter blues. When you get home,  hop under a blanket with a hot chocolate to warm up!

4. Make it a Double – Date that is!

This one is for you social butterflies! Invite your favourite couple over for dinner, or make it a pot luck if you aren’t into hosting. Socializing helps you see your partner in a new light, as they act differently in a group setting. Studies show having couple friends help build stronger relationships and deepen emotional intimacy. Bonus factor – alone time after the fact will feel extra special and add a level of anticipation to the evening.

5. Netflix and Chill

Don’t underestimate the effectiveness of doing nothing! Valentine’s Day is on a Wednesday this year, and hump-day jokes aside, it can be taxing to brave the world on a weeknight. That doesn’t need to mean that staying in can’t come with a healthy helping of romance. Order take-out, put on something comfy (or scandalous if that’s more your style), and watch your favourite movie or show from the comfort of your home.

Our Valentine’s Gift for you – Free upgrade to a Household Account!

For the month of February we invite you to add a second driver to your account free of charge – a $33.90 value! To redeem simply visit our join page and select ‘join an existing membership’

Sustainable Tips for the Holiday Season

It’s that time of year again, the decorations are going up and the bustle of the holiday season has begun. The holiday season, which really spans from Thanksgiving to New Years, is the most waste-producing time of year. While we all want to do our part, the holidays tend to be a time when we go ‘all out’ and people are apprehensive to make major changes to their traditions. But great news — it can also be simple and easy to make your holiday at home more sustainable through a few simple tweaks.

1. Put the environment on your list

Intention is your most powerful tool for change! Each year make a commitment to make one change to your normal holiday routine to help the environment. This can be for one year only or something you carry forward for future years. Consider switching out traditional holiday cards for handmade or e-cards, turning down your thermostat to compensate for the extra energy for holiday lights, or only wrapping gifts in reusable materials. These small changes make a huge impact for the environment without sacrificing the sentiment of the season.

2. Reduce food waste

The food waste this time of year can sometimes get out of control. In an effort to make sure there is variety and enough for everyone often we make way more than is necessary. Consider making less food for guests, having containers to give out leftovers, and remember to use your green bin and/or backyard composter for food scraps.

3. Use sustainable packaging for gifts

Even as a kid I was always taken aback by the giant garbage bag of shiny wrapping paper that went straight to the trash bin after the gifts had be opened. There is something about tearing into a present wrapped so precisely that is part of the suspense and anticipation. Luckily now there are an abundance of post-consumer material, recycled, and reusable gift wrap available for a more sustainable option to a classic tradition. If you want to save money consider using the colourful weekend comics from your paper!


4. Change your mind about re-gifting

Re-gifting can be quite the taboo subject for many, but I can guarantee almost every person has something lying around the house, brand new, that will never be used. Let’s change our minds about re-gifting and you can save money, de-clutter and brighten someone’s day.


5. Purchase sustainable gifts

The best gift of all is one with thought behind it, so instead of buying one of those grab gifts in the impulse section try a different approach. For the person who ‘already has everything’ you can get them a gift card, donate to a cause in their name, or adopt an endangered animal. If they are thinking of reducing their carbon footprint or getting rid of their car, give them the gift of CarShare. Check out our web store for more details!

 

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Winter is Coming….Don’t worry, Community CarShare has you covered!

By: Ashley Keenan

If you are anything like me, reading this title made you groan a little (and not just because it reminded any fellow Game of Thrones fans how long of a wait there is until the next season). As Canadians, we know all too well the way our day to day lives change as the temperature plummets and the frost starts rolling in.

Image result for winter is coming

Winter safety is a top priority for your team at Community CarShare, which is why all of our fleet has winter tires put on annually in the fall, so that we’re ready when that first snowflake hits the ground. In addition to snow tires we have ice scrapers/snow brushes in all of our vehicles, small shovels in the problem lots (thanks snow plows!), and winter weight in our pickup truck beds to maintain good traction.

What you might not know is that we have a special cancellation policy this time of year. In the event of inclement weather we waive our typical 12 hour cancellation policy – you just have to let us know you cancelled your booking due to weather if that’s the case. We never want our members driving in weather that makes them feel unsafe! If you need to take advantage of this special policy simply contact staff and let them know so we can void your booking.

We also want to remind you that keeping the vehicles windshield washer fluid filled up is paramount to winter safety. Please try to never leave the fluid empty for the next member as it isn’t just inconvenient, but can also be dangerous. Not to worry though, our in-vehicle gas cards also work for windshield washer fluid purchases.

Our insurance provider, The Co-operators, also has some great tips for staying safe this winter – check them out below!

The Co-operators Group Auto & Home – Top 10 tips for Safe Winter Driving

  1. Invest in winter tires. Put them on before it snows, and before the temperature drops below 7°C. Plus, receive a 5% Snow Tire Discount when you purchase four snow tires!
  2. Plan ahead. Plan for five extra minutes pre-trip to check road conditions and remove all snow and ice from your vehicle.
  3. Slow down. Adjust your speed according to road conditions. Wheel spinning on ice or snow could trigger more rapid acceleration or sudden braking notifications.
  4. Stock up on windshield washer fluid. When you need it most – 50 km from home in a white-out blizzard – you’ll be glad to have an extra jug.
  5. Leave the lights on. To increase visibility, keep your headlights on even during the day. Not sure if you need them? Err on the side of caution.
  6. Step lightly. Maintain steady pressure on the gas pedal and brake gently to avoid slipping and sliding, and also to prevent triggering unnecessary sudden braking notifications.
  7. Exercise patience. When you’re running 10 minutes late and find yourself stuck behind a snowplow or salt truck (of course!), take a deep breath and do not pass.
  8. Look twice before reversing. Be aware of snow banks when backing up; not only could you hit one, they make it hard to see oncoming traffic or pedestrians.
  9. Avoid the cruise control. Cruise control in wet, icy or snowy conditions isn’t worth the risk.
  10. Pack an emergency kit. Just in case you get stuck in your vehicle, pack a kit that includes salt or cat litter, a blanket, an ice scraper, matches and a flashlight.The Co-operators Group Auto and Home Insurance

The Co-operators invites you to enjoy preferred rates, exceptional coverage and excellent personal service. Community CarShare members are eligible for up to 40% discounts on Home and Auto insurance. You can get a quote online here or by calling 1-800-387-1963.

Five Amazing Road Trip Destinations

By Ashley Keenan

It could be the heat from last week but we are in a travelling mood! Southern Ontario has so many amazing destinations that are just waiting to be explored. Don’t get me wrong, I love the city, but I remember a time before I was a CarShare member when I would feel ‘stuck’ in this concrete jungle while others were out enjoying summer time adventures. Many of us don’t own cars, either through choice or happenstance, but that shouldn’t stop you from enjoying the summer with a great Canadian pastime: the road trip!

Here are our top five picks for your summer road trip, in a Community CarShare vehicle of course 😉

Cobourg Beach

Let’s be honest, southern Ontario has the most incredible beaches! Whether it’s Lake Ontario, Lake Huron or Georgian Bay there are a bevvy of beaches you simply must see. There is something alluring about Cobourg, a self-proclaimed ‘feel good town’; it is quaint and charming with a ‘weekend at the cottage’ feel but only a day trip away. There are a plethora of events and festivals in Cobourg to keep you entertained when you are off the serene coastline. On August 5th they are having their annual sandcastle competition where you will see unbelievable works of art come to life.

Image result for cobourg sandcastle photos

Niagara-on-the-Lake

It is hard not to fall instantly in love with this little town! There are no shortage of things to do here; whether it’s shopping in the infamous Landmark shops, checking out local wineries, or taking in the natural wonders of the area, you are guaranteed to come out feeling the “Niagara-on-the-Lake-Effect”. So gather your squad in one of our roomy SUVs and #carshareeverywhere

Collingwood

This town is incredible year round! Summer time in Collingwood is full of endless waterfront activities: fishing, boating, swimming and general frolicking in Georgian Bay. It is also rich in culture and history, exploring the Heritage Conservation District will give you content for your Instagram for weeks.

Elora

Elora could easily be the most beautiful village in Ontario, so pack your swim gear, hiking shoes, and your camera! Spend your days exploring caves and limestone cliffs and grabbing a snapshot or two of the incredible Elora Gorge. Spend your evenings strolling in town and enjoy the walking trails, adorable little specialty shops, and delightful cuisine.

Algonquin Provincial Park

Every nature and wildlife enthusiast must visit Algonquin Provincial Park at some point in their lives – why not this summer? Enjoy water activities like kayaking or canoeing, soak in the scenery on dozens of trails, and partake in a guided wildlife tour. This is the ultimate destination to take advantage of our new lower per km charge and the fact that all of our vehicles are the same price (and RAV4s and Caravans have roof racks for your gear) so it’s never been easier!

If you want to use your road trip to win some awesome driving credit prizes, make sure to Instagram a photo of where @communitycarshare took you with the hashtag #carshareeverywhere!

We’re growing in Guelph! Two new cars added this year

Just in case you haven’t heard, Community CarShare is growing in Guelph! This June two new cars were added in the Ward/Two Rivers Neighbourhood. We’re excited to announce a new Toyota Prius C located at the Metalworks Development at 53 Arthur Street. As well, we’ve also added a Toyota Tacoma Pick Up Truck at 71 Wyndham Street South, in partnership with Diyode Maker Space.

So far our members in the Ward are loving the new Prius closer to them! We’d love to show the vehicle in it’s parking space (it’s brand new) but it’s actually located inside the parking garage. This is some extra good news because in the winter, we’re guessing this will be an even more popular location (no fumbling for your smart card in the cold, less ice/snow to remove as well!)

Next came the Toyota Tacoma Pick Up Truck. If you need to move something big, this is definitely the way for you to go. We even have a new casual plan which is great for someone who needs a truck 2-3 times a year. Did we mention that we launched this vehicle with Diyode Maker Space? Read on to see how we made this new vehicle launch extra special.

 

No Community CarShare launch event is complete without some of our local members. A few of them really enjoyed seeing the new truck!

We were so excited about the new truck that we decided to get a cake! Did we mention that every time we reach a major milestone we get a cake? Some people might call this Community CakeShare.

We were having so much fun at the launch, someone said, “hey! we should put the cake on the hood of the truck!” We placed it there, very carefully, for this photo.

Thanks to all of our members and everyone from Diyode for making the launch a success!

Emissions progress in Waterloo Region – transportation reduction still needed

By Heather Bigelow

Climate Action Waterloo Region has just released its progress report on emissions in the region, and as your favourite local sustainable transportation provider, we can’t help but weigh in! Climate Action WR, headed up by Sustainable Waterloo Region and Reep Green Solutions, works with local action owners—including Community CarShare—to reduce the region’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions across five focus areas: transportation, workplaces, homes, agriculture, and waste. The target is to reduce Waterloo Region’s GHG levels to six per cent below 2010 levels by 2020.

So how is Waterloo Region doing? Overall we’re on track to meet the target, however most of the reductions to date have come from the provincial phase out of coal-fired power plants. Without that phase out, our emissions would have actually gone up by 4.4 per cent. The five-year check-in report was released last week, and is full of awesome infographics.

Near and dear to our hearts at Community CarShare is the transportation component. And the results in this area are not so great. Transportation-related emissions have actually gone up five per cent since 2010. And new vehicles have hit the road at twice the rate of population growth, which means that some people living without cars in 2010 now own cars. As of 2015, transportation is responsible for half of the total GHG emissions in Waterloo Region. Reversing this trend and achieving the target is going to take action from all of us.

One tangible way to reduce your carbon footprint is by joining Community CarShare. Studies show that joining a carshare leads to decreased driving, since it makes you more conscious of your vehicle usage and helps you select the best mode of transportation for your trip. To help with those choices, your Community CarShare membership also gives you access to discounts on GRT passes.

If you’re already a member and still own a car, consider if the time is right to finally let it go. You can sign up all the drivers in your household on your existing account, and share the monthly plan fee. From now until the end of June, if you sign up an additional driver to your household account, the registration fee is 50 per cent off when you use the promocode TARGET6%.

If you’d like to find out more about Climate Action Waterloo Region and how you can get involved, you’re invited to their community engagement kick-off event, being held on Thurs. June 22, from 5pm-7pm at The Tannery. All the details can be found here.

Three ways carsharing just got better for you

by Matthew Piggott

If you’re like me, you spend your day trying to figure out how to make carsharing more awesome for everyone who wants to join. OK, let’s be honest, if you’re reading this your typical day is probably not similar to mine. Nevertheless, we’ve recently been successful in getting some important wins for our members (and future members) that I just can’t wait to share with you.

No more ‘less experienced driver’ fees!

A few years ago, Community CarShare took a big step forward when those under 21 and/or with a G2 license were allowed to join and be covered on our insurance policy. The catch? Less experienced drivers were considered higher risk and so we were forced to charge those drivers an extra fee of $10/month.

I’m now pleased to report that this fee is gone! That’s a savings of $120/year we’re very glad to pass on to our members as of the June 2017 billing cycle.

If you’re under 21 and/or have a G2 license and were previously turned off by the extra the fee, now’s the time to give Community CarShare a second look.

Can you say cheaper kms?

If you’ve looked into our rates before, you’ll know that we charge $0.25/km, which is a pretty good deal already, given that our rates have gas and insurance included. But could it get better? Yes, yes it could!

We crunched the numbers and decided that it made sense to charge less per km on trips longer than 250 kms. Any kms driven over the first 250 on any booking will now only cost $0.15. (The first 250 kms still cost $0.25)

Can you say road trip in the CarShare?

Licensing requirements that actually make sense

Picture this: you’re a young driver, or someone who has recently obtained their G1 license, and you successfully get your G2 within eight to twelve months, giving you a year of driving experience. Previously, to become a CarShare member you needed two years of driving experience to join, so we generally couldn’t accept brand new G2 drivers.

Now, things work much better. You can apply with one year’s worth of driving experience and become a member of Community CarShare. Any licensed period counts towards that 1 year, even the time in which you had your G1. This opens up carsharing as an opportunity for new drivers like never before.

There’s another group of people this will also help, those with an international license. You can use your out of province/country licensing to join Community CarShare, or even combine your Ontario license with previous experience in another country in order to join. There are a few conditions for out of country applicants, however we rarely have to turn anyone down. Contact us to begin the application process if you have an out-of-country license, or if you have any questions.

So, let’s recap:

  • No more $10/month fee for less experienced drivers
  • Additional kms (any over the first 250 driven) now cost $0.15
  • You only need one year of licensing experience to join

Sound good? It also makes sense to review our FAQs before you apply. Check it out, and I look forward to welcoming more of you as members this summer!

Why CarShare? It’s like rental, but better!

By Ashley Keenan

I bet you’ve heard of carsharing in some form or another over the past few years. You might have even wondered to yourself quietly, “Well how is that different than renting?” but didn’t want to ask. If you have been wondering “should I use rental or carshare” in the past – it’s time to take a deeper look!

There is no debating it; we are fundamentally different than the traditional car rental system. Carsharing is like renting but with more perks; sure you get access to a vehicle with both, but carsharing has greater ease of access, free gas, comprehensive insurance, and advancements in technology that allow you to book and drive with the touch of a button.

The emerging popularity of the sharing economy has created an opportunity for people to branch out and not use one vehicle for all things. One of the first things I noticed when I decided to give up my vehicle was that in order to get all things done in a timely and economic manner I needed to use multiple types of transportation, including both rental options and carshare. However, as time passed there was so much more than just the base cost that was factoring in to my decision making process.

It’s about more than just money (seriously!)

It is a common experience in renting, especially on a long weekend, where there is no longer the vehicle you requested, a huge line and significant wait time when arriving at the rental agency. Sure this usually means a free upgrade but also extra gas fees and higher deductibles. That old saying that time is money holds true, especially when you are trying to adhere to a schedule. For some people, being able to access a car and return it on your schedule, not based on set business hours, can be indispensable.

We are more comparable than you think

Often members will note that I am always talking about ‘that sweet spot’ in pricing – based on a few factors such as age, time, distance and convenience, carsharing is often in line with rental prices. In fact, we recently lowered our per kilometre rate for longer trips! If you have considered carsharing in the past but price was a barrier, it’s time to give it a second look.

Factors to consider when making your choice

  • Gas – This can affect prices significantly depending on your vehicle size, time of year, and distance traveled
  • Time – Are you around during business hours, how important is ease of access, do you need a vehicle for 24 hours or less?
  • Insurance Requirements – Damage waivers cost $19.99-23.99/day depending on the rental company
  • Age – 18-21 year olds cannot rent at most agencies, those who are 21-25 are subject to a young drive fee of $15/day
  • Distance – Rentals have the perk of included kms for long distance trips, Community CarShare only charges for the kms you actually need
  • Seasonal increases – While our rates are the same year round, rental agencies change prices during peak times
  • Winter tires – 100% of Community CarShare vehicles have Winter tires installed during the Winter months.

At Community CarShare we are all about making sustainable choices based on transparent information; we realize there is no ‘one size fits all’ for everyone but with us you can count on a level of service, consistency, reliability and innovation that will keep you coming back.

WHY YOU MIGHT CHOOSE CARSHARE: WHY YOU MIGHT CHOOSE RENTAL:
Convenience – You want instant access and ability to self-serve pick up and drop off You need a vehicle for exact 24 hour increments.
Larger vehicles at compact prices – You want a bigger vehicles like a SUV, van or pick up truck You are ineligible for insurance or already have your own
Your needs don’t fit into 24 hour divisible time frames (you might just need an hour or two, or one and a half days, etc.) You have CLDI on your credit card and don’t need to purchase a damage waiver
You are under 18-25 You want to be picked up and driven home
 You want to support a local organization with a small staff and strong ties to our community

Helping to ending mental health stigma, one step at a time

By Janet MacLeod, Executive Director

A culture of stigma around mental health issues is not something you will find amongst Community CarShare’s staff team. Instead, we embrace talking about our mental health, and recognize it’s just as important a consideration as physical health to employee wellbeing. This evolution of a supportive mental health culture started out with one small step many years ago (‘sick’ days became ‘wellness’ days), but that was before I was even able to talk openly about my own mental illness.

I was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder when I was 17, but I’ve had symptoms since I was 11. At the time, I had no idea that the random (and sometimes disturbing) things rolling through my thoughts was actually a mental health issue, however after learning about OCD during a high school class, I put two and two together. It wasn’t until I was in crisis and couldn’t focus on my homework one night that I talked to my parents and went to see the doctor.

The public mental health conversation thankfully has changed significantly over the past fifteen years, and that shift has helped me to no longer feel shame about having a mental illness, and getting to a place where I can now talk about it openly, and use my experiences to help others.

Part of this work is participating in events such as Lutherwood’s Steps for Kids, which my colleague Heather Bigelow and I are walking in on Sunday, May 7. Heather first signed up for the event when she was looking for ways to support local mental health programs, and she immediately got me involved too. Our team is called Sharing is Caring, and coincidentally, another colleague had already been in touch with Lutherwood about having Community CarShare sponsor the event.

For Heather, her journey around mental illness also began as a teenager, when she lost a friend to suicide. As suicide is the second leading cause of death for Canadians between the ages of 10 and 24, not to mention all the other ways mental illness impacts the lives of young people, the importance of work that organizations such as Lutherwood do towards ending stigma and providing support for young people has never been more clear.

To support Lutherwood and team Sharing is Caring, please consider making a donation.

What did Green Venture do when their van broke down?

Corporate Member Spotlight – Green Venture

Green Venture is Hamilton’s premiere environmental
outreach organization, specializing in school tours, urban gardening, and educational outreach to make Hamilton and surrounding areas a great place to live, work and play sustainably. The relationship between Green Venture and Community CarShare is a match made in eco-friendly heaven, it just makes sense!

One of the ways Green Venture ‘practices what they preach’ is by being both a Corporate Member and Partner of Community CarShare through our CarShare Anywhere program. Green Venture funds and provides a home to a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) on the stunning grounds of EcoHouse, located at 22 Veevers Dr. They use the vehicle in many ways, including as an education tool on electric vehicles, and a sustainable mode of transportation for staff.

Green Venture decided to become a member of Community CarShare when their old van (seen on right) retired from being the on-site vehicle at EcoHouse. Using Community CarShare as their mode of transportation not only made economic sense (no more maintenance or insurance bills) but also streamlined their scheduling by allowing multiple staff to schedule bookings independently. They also enjoy the ability to cater the size of the vehicle to the size of job, improving environmental efficiency by only using larger vehicles when required.

Green Venture’s commitment to environment and community doesn’t stop at providing sustainable transportation to its employees; they also use the Prius to introduce valuable lessons to emerging young minds. On their grade school tours the electric hybrid vehicle is used as a visual aid to discuss energy conservation which in turn grabs the attention of their teachers and parents. Educating children on sustainable modes of transportation is essential for changing thought patterns on car ownership, which they take home with them and eventually take to adulthood.