Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Car co-op well on road to being self-sustaining

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Beth McKechnie says there could be another surge in memberships as the co-op's fleet of cars increases.

KEN GIGLIOTTI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES Enlarge Image

Beth McKechnie says there could be another surge in memberships as the co-op's fleet of cars increases. Photo Store

PEG City Car Co-Op's fleet of sub-compacts continues to grow, and the car-sharing operation is well on its way to self-sustainability.

After starting with two cars and about 25 members in the spring of 2011, it has grown to 255 active members and nine cars.

But it's not stopping there.

Peg City has just launched its second investment share offering through the province's Community Enterprise Development Tax Credit program.

During the fall of 2012 and into 2011, it raised $68,500 through its first offering -- which features a 30 per cent provincial tax credit and potential dividend of up to five per cent after a three-year hold.

This time, it's setting its sights at a modest $50,000 by March 31. Beth McKechnie, the co-op's manager, said there was a surge of new members the last time it increased the fleet, and she believes the same could happen again.

"Before the last round of capital raising, we had about 150 members and four cars. Now we have 255 members and nine cars," she said. "We're really thrilled. We're pretty much on target as to what we were looking at for our business plan."

Terri Milne, a co-operative developer with the province's Department of Housing and Community Development, said Peg City is proving to be very successful for a number of reasons, not the least of which is it has a number of committed people helping to run it, and there is growing environmental interests that make car-sharing an appealing prospect to more and more people.

Since the start, the thinking was Peg City would need to get to 11 or 12 cars to bring in enough revenue to be self-sufficient. With the proceeds from the investment share offering, it will be looking to buy two to four vehicles over the course of the next year.

With nine cars, it means there are more neighbourhoods where cars are accessible.

And more cars means more revenue, which means more funds are available to pay back its original deficit and fund the share pay-backs.

It costs $500 to join the co-op (which is refundable when the member quits), but you do not have to be a member to buy investment shares, which are sold in $100 increments.

Members then pay fees to use the cars.

McKechnie said after operating for a little while, they realized it made sense to offer adjusted rates that are more flexible for heavier users. Members can move back and forth in terms of their status.

As it stands now, casual members pay $9 per hour plus 25 cents per kilometre, regular members pay $4 per hour (plus 25 cents per kilometre) and now a member-plus category allows the member to pay $25 per month and only $2 per hour plus the mileage rate.

martin.cash@freepress.mb.ca

 

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 30, 2014 B7

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