Rideshare can help seniors who would otherwise be isolated. (file photo)

Rideshare can help seniors who would otherwise be isolated. (file photo)

Elder Co-op launching free Rideshare service

“The Elder Care Co-op was formed with a vision of ‘seniors helping seniors”

Timed to coincide with the Co-op’s AGM, the Cowichan Elder Care Co-op will launch the Cowichan Valley Rideshare Service in the main lecture theatre at Vancouver Island University’s Cowichan Campus at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 24.

“The Elder Care Co-op was formed with a vision of ‘seniors helping seniors,” said North Cowichan councillor and chair of Cowichan Co-operative Connections, Rob Douglas. “But here we have an example of seniors helping the whole community as a result of developing a service for seniors who were unable to find customizable, but affordable transportation outside of regular business hours.”

Complementing existing services such as Oak Transit handyDart and Cowichan Seniors Community Foundation’s supported transportation program, Cowichan Valley Rideshare is a free service available to all Cowichan Valley residents which actually improves as more people use it.

In assessing the needs of its members, the Elder Care Co-op became aware that, although services such as those offered by handyDart and the Cowichan Seniors’ Foundation helped seniors get to medical and support group appointments, there was a paucity of options available to allow them to access theatres, restaurants, social, political and educational gatherings or even just visit friends in the evening. Even seniors who have their own cars often find it increasingly difficult to drive after dark as they get older.

While researching a number of possible options, the Co-op came across the impressive survey results of the Kootenay Rideshare’s 10th anniversary. Since 2006, Kootenay Rideshare users have shared over 28,694 rides and increased vehicle occupancy by 74 per cent compared to the national average for Canada. In that time, users have saved over 700,000 litres of fuel. At October 2015 gas prices for B.C. that translates into over $800,000 in savings for Rideshare users. More importantly, Rideshare users have collectively reduced carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 1.7 million kilograms. One of the survey recommendations was to enlarge the area of Rideshare service. The Co-op contacted Kootenay Rideshare, and found ourselves the 30th area of extension, after Kelowna, Calgary, etc., but the first on Vancouver Island.

Cowichan Valley Rideshare is being sponsored by seniors in the Cowichan Elder Care Co-op, much like the woodworking and crafting facility at the HUB at Cowichan Station is being sponsored by seniors downsizing and partnering with others who welcome their enthusiasm. Come on Saturday afternoon March 24 and learn how to register on Rideshare for a ride — or for riders.

For more information on the Cowichan Elder Care Co-op and the Cowichan Valley Rideshare Node contact Roger Hart at 250-715-3039 or info@cecc.coop

To access Cowichan Valley Rideshare go to: https://cowichan.ride-share.org