School Streets

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The National Active School Streets Initiative (School Streets) is an innovative program to create car-free zones in front of schools at the start and end of the school day. This initiative is a collaboration between Green Communities Canada, 8 80 Cities, the Centre d’écologie urbaine, and the Society for Children and Youth of BC. It is a nationwide expansion of the Levelling the Playing Field, Ontario School Streets Pilot, and City of Vancouver School Streets programs.

Benefits of Schools Streets

Increase active travel

Reduce air pollution

Improve Road safety

Support child mobility

Foster social connection

About the Program

The School Streets program is funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada’s Healthy Canadians and Communities Fund. The program runs from 2024 to 2027, with up to 30 School Street implementations planned across six provinces – British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec, and New Brunswick. It is coordinated by Green Communities Canada, led by technical project experts at 8 80 Cities and Centre d’écologie urbaine, and is evaluated by research partners at the Université de Montréal, University of British Columbia, Queen’s University, and Toronto Metropolitan University.

Local partner organizations from each community participate in a training program and ongoing knowledge exchange opportunities through a Community of Practice. These activities enable the partner organizations, made up of not-for-profit organizations, municipalities, and school boards, districts and consortia, to lead implementation within their communities and generate nationwide momentum for School Streets.

The length of each partner organization’s intervention depends on which of the three project streams they are participating in, the Level-Up, Pilot, or Aspiring stream. Level-Up communities complete 2 to 3 School Streets projects, each up to one year in length. Pilot communities complete 2 School Streets projects, each approximately one month in length. Aspiring communities complete up to 3 School Streets projects, each approximately one day to one week long.

Research partners are conducting in-depth evaluation of many of these interventions, particularly alongside the Level-Up communities. The research team collects data on various parameters, including population characteristics, children’s physical activity engagement, and participant satisfaction and engagement.  

History of School Streets

School Streets originated in Bolzano, Italy during the early 1990s when communities noticed significant car traffic and congestion in front of their schools during pick-up and drop-off times. As a proposed solution, the first School Street was created. Since then, the concept spread across Canada, with implementation sites in Victoria, Vancouver, Winnipeg, Toronto, Kingston, Mississauga, and Montréal, to name a few. In 2021, School Streets pilot projects were being implemented in various communities across Canada.

Green Communities Canada and 8 80 Cities partnered to lead the Ontario School Streets Pilot (OSSP) program, in which five School Streets were tested across four Ontario cities – Hamilton, Mississauga, Markham, and Kingston. In the same year, the Centre d’écologie urbaine, Université de Montréal, and Queen’s University co-led the Levelling the Playing Field program, in which two School Streets were implemented across Montréal and Kingston. The City of Vancouver has also organized School Streets since 2021, having led interventions in eleven schools across Vancouver.

School Streets Toolkit

The Toolkit developed by 8 80 Cities outlines the key steps for planning, implementing, and evaluating a School Street intervention.

Ontario Pilot Report

Download the School Streets pilot report developed by 8 80 Cities for findings from Mississauga, Markham, Hamilton, and Kingston!

School Streets webinar

Watch the introduction to School Streets Webinar and the Piloting School Streets Webinar for information about creating car-free zones.


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Get Involved

If you would like to get involved with an existing School Street initiative or would like to host one in your own community, please get in touch!