Designations were recently awarded to three Ontario municipalities for significant progress towards increased walkability: Mississauga (Silver), Pelham (Bronze), and Minto (Bronze).
“The WALK Friendly Community designation recognizes communities that take practical steps to make walking safe, convenient and enjoyable,” says program manager Kate Hall, right.
“Walk friendly communities are linked to higher rates of everyday walking, which helps create vibrant neighbourhoods and increased retail sales and transit use.”
Hall also notes that walking is now recognized as a “wonder drug” that boosts health and fitness and combats chronic diseases like diabetes.
WALK Friendly Communities is a program of the Canada Walks department of Green Communities Canada. The designation guides and encourages municipalities to reverse decades of relative neglect and start putting walking back where it belongs: at the top of the transportation hierarchy.
“We have built walking into our policies, plans, and projects to make Mississauga more pedestrian friendly,” says Mayor Bonnie Crombie. “We will continue to encourage active transportation and the environment to support it.”
Minto Mayor George Bridge says the designation is a “tremendous honour,” while Pelham Mayor Dave Augustyn says he is “delighted” by the designation.
Communities applying for the designation report their progress on more than 200 key walkability indicators, including sidewalk policies, connectivity, progressive design standards, campaigns and promotions, training, and citizen engagement. Applications are scored by a panel of experts.
Mississauga, Pelham and Minto join the following communities which received walk friendly designation in 2013: Hamilton (silver), Ottawa (silver), Richmond Hill (bronze), London (bronze), and Wasaga Beach (bronze).
Applications for the next round of designations will be accepted up until 20 February. Communities wishing to apply are encouraged to read the Application Guide and visit the WALK Friendly Communities website.