Sharable car gives OCH tenants a new way to get around town

Residents of an Ottawa Community Housing (OCH) complex on Gladstone Avenue have a new way to get around town — a sharable electric vehicle they can borrow to get to grocery stores, medical appointments and other essential outings.

Electric vehicle parked at 811 Gladstone Ave., with discounts for residents

Shared electric vehicle aims to connect community housing residents with wider Ottawa

6 months ago
Duration 0:48
Coun. Mathieu Fleury says the new community vehicle will help residents get to grocery stores that aren’t located in their immediate neighbourhood. Resident Mimo Nielsen says the initiative may prompt him to get his licence and explore the city.

Residents of an Ottawa Community Housing (OCH) complex on Gladstone Avenue have a new way to get around town — a sharable electric vehicle they can borrow to get to grocery stores, medical appointments and other essential outings.

On Tuesday, OCH, in partnership with the Ottawa Community Foundation, Hydro Ottawa, the Ottawa Climate Action Fund and car-sharing company Communauto, announced the initiative, touted as the first fully electric car-sharing program to be offered at an affordable housing facility in Ontario.

This vehicle offers options, that's really what it does.- Coun. Mathieu Fleury

The Kia Niro hatchback will be available for use by any Communauto member, but is really geared toward the residents of Mosaïq, a modern residential complex at 811 Gladstone Ave., that opened earlier this year.

"This vehicle offers options, that's really what it does," said Coun. Mathieu Fleury, chair of the OCH board.

Fleury, chair of the board of Ottawa Community Housing, spoke at Tuesday's event. (Jean Delisle/CBC)

Fleury noted Mosaïq residents live in a walkable community and will soon have easy access to the new Gladstone LRT station about three blocks away, but must travel to reach larger stores and other amenities that aren't available in the immediate neighbourhood.

"The closest grocery store to here would be at the corner of Somerset and Bank, which for most it's complicated to get to, and through the winter can be challenging," Fleury said.

"So having access to a car-sharing option, it's good for groceries, it's good for other errands which could require longer distances."

Residents of Mosaïq and four nearby OCH properties who wish to join Communauto will be given a break on the up-front refundable bond, a saving of $500 for individuals or $750 for families, as well as a credit for pay-as-you-go users.

Users can calculate the estimated cost of their trip, which is based on a combination of distance and duration, on Communauto's website.

Wilson Wood, project lead for Communauto, shows off the fully electric Kia Niro that will now be parked outside the Ottawa Community Housing complex at 811 Gladstone Ave. (Jean Delisle/CBC)

Steve Winkelman, executive director of the Ottawa Climate Action Fund, called the initiative a "missing piece of the mobility ecosystem" that meets both the needs of residents and the city's climate goals.

"This is about quality of life, and that's how we're going to make progress on climate," he said.

Mimo Nielsen, who moved into his one-bedroom apartment in February, said he let his driver's licence lapse 20 years ago and couldn't afford the cost of owning a car including insurance and gas.

He said this initiative could prompt him to get his licence again so he can visit larger retailers on the city's outskirts and see parts of Ottawa he rarely sees.

"I think it's a great idea. I also think it's a good incentive for those who don't drive to maybe consider getting a licence, plus the fact that it's an electric vehicle — you can't go wrong with that. I think electric vehicles are the future."

Mosaïq resident Mimo Nielsen says he'd consider renewing his driver's licence to take advantage of the sharable electric vehicle. (Jean Delisle/CBC)

Mosaïq resident Nzigiria Nuwara owns her own car, but agreed the new EV could benefit many of her neighbours.

"Here, if you don't have [a] car, it's hard to live," she said. "Sometimes you have the appointments, and then there's many old people in the building, the people who have health problems … it will be easier for them if the [rental fee] is not high."

Nzigiria Nugrawa, a resident of 811 Gladstone Ave., believes some residents of her Ottawa Community Housing complex will be able to make use of the Communauto car to pick up groceries and run other errands. (Alistair Steele/CBC)

Communauto project lead Wilson Wood believes the initiative will be a success, and hopes it will soon expand to other OCH properties.

"This isn't the first and only, this is the first of what we're hoping is going to be many," he said.


Alistair Steele

Writer and editor

After spending more than a decade covering Ottawa city hall for CBC, Alistair Steele is now a feature writer and digital copy editor at