(Sept-Îles) The transport of small parcels has been a problem for businesses on the North Shore for a long time. The Côte-Nord Biofood Table found a solution by taking inspiration from carpooling.
The mission accepted by La Presse was very simple: collect a package the size of a bag of groceries in Montreal and deliver it the next day to a contractor in Sept-Îles. There was plenty of room left in the trunk of the car, and since we were making the trip, why not take the opportunity to help out by carrying an extra piece of luggage?
Systematizing this kind of boost is precisely Colinor’s objective. “On the Côte-Nord, we are all travelers,” says Marc Normand, director of the Table bioalimentaire de la Côte-Nord (TBCN), the organization that is carrying out the project. “There are a lot of people moving around, so we thought, since there are already vehicles on the road, why not put a package in it? »
Colinor works like a carpooling service like Amigo Express: its platform connects motorists with companies that have small and medium packages to travel. The driver indicates his point of departure and his destination, his dates and times of travel, and interested shippers can get in touch with him.
There are of course transport companies that deliver on the North Shore. Colinor presents itself as an alternative or a complement for companies, especially smaller ones. Indeed, transporting a pallet of materials or products is rarely a problem in the region. “As soon as we have small parcels, the transport costs are quite high”, notes Marc Normand, however.
These costs can make all the difference for an entrepreneur located in a remote region.
The idea of setting up a service allowing parcels to “hitchhiking” emerged a few years ago during a forum entitled Côte-Nord en mode solutions, organized by the Center d’aide aux entreprises de la region. TBCN was given the mandate to develop it, which it was able to do by taking advantage of financial assistance of $188,000 over four years from a program of the Ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentation du Québec for innovations in the bio-food sector.
Martin Demassieux, co-owner of La Compagnie microbrewery, has closely followed the development of Colinor and has great hopes in this collaborative transport project. He believes its flexibility makes it “complementary” or even advantageous to bus transportation, used by companies so far, but which follows a set schedule and route. It will also allow parcels to be sent to and from municipalities or villages not served by public transit.
The territory of the North Shore is vast, but its agglomerations are not very extensive, which constitutes an advantage in the eyes of Martin Demassieux.
According to him, this could encourage many drivers to provide this kind of service and add a few minutes to their already long driving hours.
It is referred to as “service” because there is currently no provision for people who pick up a package to receive compensation. The fees collected by Colinor will only be used to maintain the platform. “It’s an act of solidarity for our businesses,” says Marc Normand. The operation of the platform will be based on trust between shipper and carrier.
Colinor may just be the start of something else, according to Marc Normand. “The platform will allow us to study transport flows on the North Shore, he says, and perhaps identify other solutions that could be complementary to this proposal. »