British Columbia

Sharing economy probed in study funded by City of Vancouver

The City of Vancouver is helping fund new research into growing the local sharing economy.

The City of Vancouver is helping fund new research into growing the local sharing economy.

Vancouver is already home to car-sharing and office-sharing. Now, researchers with The Sharing Project are looking to identify further demand through focus groups, interviews and surveys.

"Sharing is not a new idea. It's been around forever," said lead researcher Chris Diplock.

But the idea has taken off since the 2008 recession. Ventures in other cities share couture clothing, sporting goods and even wedding décor — and Diplock thinks there's room for more shared goods and services in Vancouver.

"We want to highlight what things are screaming to be shared, and how do people want to share them."

The city has donated $15,000 it secured from a provincial grant to the project. Sticking with the spirit of sharing, the researchers are looking to crowdfund another $20,000.

"Part of why we're funding the research [is] we see it as a great opportunity to help meet the greenest city goals, help businesses grow and improve the quality of life," said Sean Pander, the city's assistant director of sustainability.

"But we want to understand what are those other opportunities? We were kind of surprised at how successful and quickly car-sharing took off."

Officials hope the project can help bring Vancouver closer to being the greenest city in the world while helping out local businesses.

"We see it as an opportunity to help meet our greenest city goals — reducing material consumption and waste," Pander said.

"It's [also] very effective to help non-profits or businesses expand and meet community and societal goals without needing taxpayer money."

An initial report from The Sharing Project is expected later in the spring.