Car co-op looking at Whistler 

Co-operative Auto Network offers lower-cost solutions for drivers

WHAT: Monthly AWARE meeting

WHO: Suji Moon of the Co-operative Auto Network

WHERE: Delta Whistler Resort

WHEN: Thursday, Oct. 2, 7 p.m.

The Vancouver-based Co-operative Auto Network (CAN) is looking into the possibility of setting up a co-op in Whistler, giving people yet another alternative to car ownership.

Owning a car is an expensive prospect, to say the least. According to CAN, the typical cost of driving a car in the Lower Mainland is $8,500 a year, once you factor in the cost of depreciation, insurance, fuel, and average out the cost of regular and special maintenance.

You can lease a car for about $200 a month, but insurance, gas and maintenance will cost another $200, bringing your commitment to $400 a month.

If you don’t drive every day, or only need that second car occasionally, it may make more sense economically, and environmentally, to join a car co-op.

CAN already has more than 1,300 members and 68 cars, with the majority of locations in Greater Vancouver, as well as satellite locations in Nanaimo, Tofino, Courtenay and on Cortes Island. Members can sign-up for cars in any of the participating communities.

"We have locations throughout Vancouver and on Vancouver Island, and we are seeing if there is enough interest to purchase a vehicle in Whistler," said Suji Moon, executive director of CAN. Whistler appears to be a good fit for CAN.

"Whistler residents seem to be more environmentally aware in general, but as part of the lifestyle it seems you do need a vehicle occasionally," she said. "To purchase a car up there, we would need 16 to 20 people to sign on."

The concept is simple. To be part of a car co-op through CAN, you have to pay a one-time registration fee of $20, and put up a deposit of $500 to purchase a share. That money will be returned to you if you leave the co-op.

Once you’re in, you can take a look at your driving needs and opt for either the Lower Usage Plan, the Moderate Usage Plan or the Higher Usage Plan.

The Lower Usage Plan, for people driving 150 km/month on average, costs $60 a year for administrative fees and 32 cents per kilometre.

The Moderate Usage Plan, for people driving less than 225 km/month on average, costs $12.50 a month and 27 cents per kilometre.

The Higher Usage Plan, for people driving more than 225 km/month, costs $35 a month and 17 cents per kilometre.

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