Catherine McKenna, Canada's Minister of Environment and Climate Change, has expressed enthusiasm for developing an active transportation strategy . What a great idea! Here’s why:
Active transportation will help achieve our national goals. AT will help meet national goals for a low carbon economy, public transit, health and fitness (obesity, diabetes, heart health), traffic safety, senior well-being , youth well-being, mental health, happiness, accessibility, housing affordability, economic development, and safe, vibrant neighbourhoods. What's not to like?
Canadians want it! Active transportation has enthusiastic support from high-profile national organizations, including major health NGOs, transportation engineers, and the Canadian Automobile Association, and from and regional and local organizations, municipalities, and businesses across Canada. See the list of 17 co-signers to a letter to Minister McKenna. In addition, over 150 organizations from coast to coast have joined the call for a federal strategy.
It meets a need for housing. Surveys show a growing demand for accommodation in walkable, bikable, transit-supportive neighbourhoods, particularly among the boomer generation and millennials. But a lack of supply has helped to drive up prices in these desirable locations. We need a strategy to boost the supply of affordable housing in "location efficient" neighbourhoods so people can live in kind of community they want.
A strategy will mobilize action. A national movement for active transportation has been building for more than two decades. It's time for action. A national AT strategy will mobilize progress by engaging Canadians from coast to coast. Strategy elements will include targets and timelines (modal share, road deaths, distance travelled, etc.); progress reporting and accountability; federal infrastructure funding and policies; sharing of best practices, policies, and strategies; design standards and approaches; capacity building; shared messaging; recognition and awards; research, evaluation, and innovation; federal-provincial-territorial-municipal collaboration and alignment; ongoing partnerships; support for community action.
A strategy will benefit all Canadians. An active transportation strategy will pick up the pace of action to transition to a healthy, low-carbon, equitable economy, making our country a great place to walk and cycle for Canadians in all parts of the country – Canadians of all ages, abilities, incomes, and backgrounds, in all kinds of communities, large and small, rural and urban.
Active transportation will pay off. Active transportation is the least expensive form of transportation to provide. with a huge return on investment in the form of emissions reductions, improved air quality, better health, reduced health spending, avoided deaths and injuries, and a host of other co-benefits. Walkable, bikeable neighbourhoods attract investment. They also attract the kind of creative employees needed to build Canada’s innovation economy.