“Dad, I hope when I grow up I have a fulfilling career and a high stress commute,” said no kid ever. It may be a quippy catch phrase used by Commute Ontario to promote its new, turnkey program which launched this past fall, but it also speaks to a reality that’s being seen across the province – people want to spend less time stuck in their cars during their daily commute.
SustainMobility (the non-profit social enterprise behind Commute Ontario) was awarded a three-year Grow grant of $710,000 by the Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) in 2018. Commute Ontario provides programs and tools which promote active and sustainable transportation to municipalities, post secondary institutions and workplaces across Ontario completely free-of-charge.
Once signed up with Commute Ontario, workplaces and campuses gain immediate access to an online carpool matching tool called Carpool Ontario as well as a host of programs, campaigns, additional tools and marketing and communications collateral all promoting active and sustainable transportation options.
Georgian’s Orillia and Owen Sound campuses have just signed on with Commute Ontario, just in time for the first campaign of the year. Carpool Month, a month-long campaign that take place in February is designed to encourage and reward carpooling and includes a grand prize draw at the conclusion of the campaign.
“Many of our students live outside the area that the City of Orillia bus services,” says Mike Zecchino, Student Life Manager, Orillia Campus. “This carpool matching tool will provide an option for students to travel to campus, and at the same time save money and do their part in improving the environment. I have already registered as a driver, and I can say that the process was easy to complete in just a few minutes.”
OTF Grow grants were developed to help non-profit organizations like SustainMobility to expand on proven programs so that their reach can have an even greater impact. Commute Ontario will provide programs that have been proven to bring about long-term commuting behavioural change by promoting and providing incentives to try sustainable and active transportation (carpooling, taking transit, walking, cycling, etc.).
“Commute Ontario is really taking off on a province-wide scale,” says Glenn Gumulka, Executive Director, SustainMobility. “We hear feedback all the time that people are interested in carpooling but need the right tools and resources to find a suitable carpool partner, or they think about trying walking or cycling to work but need a little extra motivation. Commute Ontario provides proven tools and resources to help meet these needs.”
Municipalities also onboard to-date with Commute Ontario include Peterborough, London, Thunder Bay, Barrie, Orangeville, and Dufferin and Perth Counties. Additionally, Commute Ontario is thrilled to have local non-profits GreenUp and EcoSuperior partner with the program to help facilitate it within their communities.
Transportation is a leading contributor of harmful greenhouse gas emissions (GHG’s) in Ontario. Commute Ontario has set a three-year goal of reducing 4-million Kg of GHG’s as well as 20-million vehicle kilometres travelled province-wide with the help and commitment of Ontario’s municipalities and residents alike.
Commute Ontario is designed to help municipalities and workplaces take back commute time and reconnect with what they love. Reconnect with nature, with friends, with being active, or use the time to get extra tasks done when carpooling or taking transit. Both employers and employees have much to gain: Increased feelings of job satisfaction and work-life balance, the cost savings of reduced employee turnover, and eliminating the need to expand parking infrastructure to name a few.
Municipalities are encouraged to visit the Commute Ontario website to learn how they can get on board.
OTF is an agency of the Government of Ontario, and one of Canada’s leading granting foundations. It has awarded more than $120 million to some 700 projects this year to build healthy and vibrant communities in Ontario.