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Car co-op on the road to expansion

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Peg City Car Co-op drove its way to the top of a national competition which earned the organization $10,000 for its efforts.


In September, the local car share program, which opened for business in June 2011, entered the National Co-op Challenge, to compete for up to $30,000.


The challenge was organized by the co-operators, an insurance and investment business, and was part of the International Year of Co-operatives celebrations, aimed at giving emerging co-ops nationwide a stronger voice in their community, and a chance to expand.


Co-ops across Canada applied to enter the challenge, and the list was narrowed down to 24 finalists from 12 regions. Peg City was among the finalists for co-ops in the West.


All finalists had to produce a 90-second video highlighting their co-op, showing their commitment and enthusiasm for their co-op’s growth, and explaining how they would use the funding if they won. The videos were posted on Facebook, where people were able to vote for their favourite.


Peg City competed against five other Canadian co-ops and its video received enough votes to finish third and earn $10,000. Winners were announced in early December.


Melissa Dupuis, the co-op’s board secretary, said she came across the contest on social media, thinking the co-op could use the extra money for marketing.


Members of the co-op put together a video in a day with no budget, shooting it on two iPhones.


"For putting no money into it, and a few hours of editing, to get $10,000 is great," she said.


Dupuis said after a month-long period of appealing Winnipeggers to vote for their video on Facebook, co-op members found out they were second last in the competition. But voters came through, she said, and within a few weeks of starting up a Facebook page asking people to vote, Peg City had climbed to third place.


Dupuis said the money will come in handy in helping the co-op grow its existing fleet of four vehicles.


"It’s really great. We have a whole marketing strategy but we haven’t been able to implement it (because of lack of funds). (The $10,000) will allow us to do a lot more advertising," Dupuis said.


"We want to work up to 11 cars in the next two years," she said, adding the way to grow is by making more Winnipeggers aware of what the car sharing program is.


Aaron Russin, Peg City’s member service co-ordinator, said the money will help the organization continue to get the word out about the growing co-op and encourage more people to consider transportation alternatives.


"A car used to be seen as a kind of status symbol, and with the expansion of our fleet, we’re hoping that people will associate their statuses with their level of sharing, and living a lifestyle centered on cycling, walking and transit," he said.


The four existing fleet vehicles are located at the Safeway at 499 River Ave. in Osborne Village, the Manitoba legislature grounds, IBEX Payroll at 421 Mulvey Ave. E, and the south Osborne Safeway at 655 Osborne St.


Dupuis said the co-op is hoping to expand its fleet within the next two years to include Wolseley, the Exchange District and West Broadway and grow its approximately 110 person membership to 400.


Co-op members pay a one-time, refundable fee of $500 to join, and $3 per booking plus 40 cents per kilometre. Members can add up to three additional drivers in the same household for $250.


For more information, or to join the car co-op got to pegcitycarcoop.ca.

danielle.finch@canstarnews.com

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