Finding the right partners is so important, whether you’re building a business or a township!
The Town of Innisfil is just like an entrepreneur: we’re focused on building a scalable township. To do that, we’re always looking to create partnerships with innovative companies that can help us to expand the solutions we offer so that businesses can thrive in our beautiful lakeside location.
Our partnership with Rover is just one of several examples that we want to share with you.
What is Rover?
Rover Parking is a mobile app that works something like Uber, but instead of sharing rides, homeowners can share their parking spaces and get paid for it. Residents can rent out their available driveway spaces by the hour, day or even overnight, opening up options for parking in the area.
When the Founder of Rover—Grant Brigden—and our CAO—Jason Reynar—met at a Conference in 2017, they both realized that they had something to gain from a potential partnership.
What problems is Rover meant to solve, in Innisfil?
Lowering street congestion was a particular goal that we had, and in the winter months, street cleaning is facilitated. Working with Rover allows the township to work on both issues without having to, as on staff member put it: “Pave paradise and put in another parking lot!”
Of course, the argument could be made that we have the land to justify more parking lots but it’s not always the best option. Paving a new lot is a $0.5-1 million dollar investment and we don’t always need high levels of parking. Demand for spaces fluctuates depending on the time of year. In addition, that investment would only put parking in one new lot in one location. The reality is that Innisfil needed to address a parking deficit in multiple locations. Factor in that in the future, we may actually need less parking, with the eventual arrival of autonomous vehicles, we were left with one question: why build all of those spaces, if in 15 years we won’t need them anymore?
How is Rover doing, in Innisfil?
With these services, success comes down to supply and demand. If the supply is there, demand will move forward. To date, we have hit the supply numbers out of the park. Rover tells us that our uptake has well exceeded bigger markets, including Toronto. To put a number on it, we’ve increased our paid parking stock by 15%. Considering the half to one million dollar price tag to do the same with a new lot, this is good news.
Demand is still an open question: we’re still evaluating the numbers and want to see more before coming to any conclusions. We also don’t yet know if we’re making a difference in relieving the pressure points we’ve seen (e.g. cars parked illegally or in the way of snow plows), as that is a quantitative exercise. That measurement is still to come.
There is no doubt that our parking challenges are particularly acute in the winter, during ice fishing given that there is no on street overnight parking. It’s also problematic for visitors who want to access the lake, during the summer months, so the results remain to be seen… But signs are positive.
Media, residents, Council and observational feedback are all very positive. Of course, there are always exceptions, but by and large, the response is very encouraging.
Innisfil embraces the freedom to fail
And that’s good news for entrepreneurs. WIth Rover, Council gave us the freedom to try the project for one year, using a letter of agreement to spell out how Rover and the Township would work together, including our expectations of each other, and then go for it!
These partnerships are learning process on both sides but what stands out with the Innisfil is the almost complete lack of red tape and the willingness to challenge the status quo. The sentence ‘but we’ve always done things that way’ just doesn’t exist. This makes the Township of Innisfil the ideal place for businesses to test their ideas. We are large enough for meaningful trials/pilots but small enough that we’re nimble and able to act fast. Innisfil is crafting its identity around innovation and that can work to everyone’s advantage.
Our ability to innovate solutions that face so many smaller communities is tantamount to us walking the walk of entrepreneurship! You can see how easy it is for startups and businesses to work with us, as we’ve already demonstrated that we’re ready and able to grow, scale and succeed!
If you’re interested in a possible partnership with the Town, fill out our form and someone will reach out to you.