The School Streets concept is being pilot tested in several cities during the 2021-22 school year
Green Communities Canada (GCC) is proud to introduce the Ontario School Streets Pilot project, which is testing the creation of car-free zones in streets adjacent to schools in three Canadian cities: Hamilton, Markham, and Mississauga. Each local pilot is being led on the ground by the local municipality and will develop recommendations for the planning, permitting, and implementation of School Streets programs in municipal settings. The project is managed by GCC, working in partnership with 8 80 Cities as an expert technical advisor.
School Streets are an innovative solution that can help to support and encourage active school travel, as they create a car-free environment in front of schools at the start and end of the school day. This improves road safety by prioritizing walking and cycling for children, their caregivers, and teachers. School Streets also help to reduce traffic congestion, improve air quality around schools, and offer much-needed space to play and physically distance.
It is no surprise that School Streets are gaining popularity throughout the world, with recent examples in the United Kingdom, France, New Zealand, Italy, and the Netherlands. They have also begun to be tested by schools across Canada, including in Toronto, Winnipeg, Victoria, Kingston, and Vancouver.
“In recent years, a growing commitment towards active transportation has been seen and we are so thrilled to participate in this global movement by helping to bring School Streets to three communities in Ontario”, said Isooda Niroomand, Program Manager for School Travel Planning at Green Communities Canada.
The pilot project is currently in the planning phase, with 8 80 Cities providing technical assistance to the city teams through scoping workshops and supporting them in selecting school sites and planning for community engagement. The project partners come together once a month for a virtual meeting to share progress and connect with School Streets experts from other parts of Canada.
“It is exciting to see how the context of these communities are unique and that a variety of approaches are needed to build a common understanding of the potential values, opportunities, and challenges that come with these car-free zones,” said Niroomand.
The three pilot cities will implement their School Streets programs at local schools in the spring of 2022.
“The School Streets concept is rapidly gaining momentum in Canada and we are already seeing a lot of interest in this pilot project”, said GCC’s Program Director Kate Berry. “We look forward to sharing the learnings and recommendations in 2022, which we will be doing with 8 80 Cities through ‘How-to’ Workshops in March 2022, and a public webinar in Summer 2022”.
GCC and 8 80 Cities staff will present an overview of the Ontario School Streets Pilot at the Ontario Traffic Council School Zone Safety Symposium on Monday, November 29th.
The Ontario School Streets Pilot project is funded through the Ontario Active School Travel Fund, which is made possible through the financial support of the Government of Ontario.