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Car sharing could soon be coming to Squamish

Modo was the only company that expressed interest, and proposed a timeline of 2018 or 2019

Car sharing service Modo could be coming to Squamish soon – but residents will be sharing them with District staff in the early stage of the project.

The District has been working on a plan to get car-sharing in the community in the hopes that it will enable some families to drop down to one or no vehicles in the home. This would encourage active transportation and public buses, and alleviate parking pressure.

“Establishing a carsharing service increases transportation choices in Squamish. It also provides an option for residents who may not be able to afford personal vehicles to meet their needs,” reads a report presented on Tuesday.

Modo was the only company that was interested in Squamish.

The car-sharing co-operative has a membership close to 20,000 people and currently operates in Vancouver, Victoria and Nanaimo.

Members pay a small registration fee which enables them to book shared vehicles through an app or by phone – paying a small hourly fee for each use.

If finalized in Squamish, the program would introduce two cars to the downtown, each with designated parking spots. Users will need to pick up and return the vehicle from its spot. It’s expected the vehicles could be introduced in 2018 or 2019.

Funding for the two cars will be paid for by a developer cash contribution as part of the Waterfront Landing Phase 1. A third will be paid for by Modo and added a year later, if it is successful.

Staff said two models are currently being considered – the Honda Fit and the Rav4 Hybrid – but are not finalized. Modo will own the vehicles as part of their larger fleet.

As part of the deal, the District will sign on as a business member and staff will have the option to use a Modo vehicle for short trips.

Staff said the District remains open to other car-sharing companies setting up in the community.

Mayor Patricia Heintzman, echoing councillors around the table on Tuesday at a community planning and infrastructure meeting, encouraged staff to explore an arrangement for Modo to be an exclusive partner.

“In order for this to succeed, there needs to be a certain number of cars, a critical mass. If there are too many [companies], they are all going to fail,” said Heintzman. “If there is a mechanism to create a preferred provider, I think that’s worth exploring.”

If the program downtown is successful, Modo have also expressed interest in the area around Quest University, according
to staff.