TORONTO, May 27, 2013 /CNW/ - Green Communities Canada today launched
WALK Friendly Ontario, a designation program that recognizes municipal
excellence in walkability. By awarding Bronze, Silver, Gold and
Platinum designations to towns and cities from across Ontario, WALK
Friendly Ontario will stimulate action to make communities safer and
more enjoyable places to walk.
The designation is timely: after years on the sidelines, interest in
walkability is now on the rise. Major corporations are relocating to
walk-friendly downtown locations, home-seekers are identifying
walkability as a priority, and Walkscores now appear regularly on real
estate listings. Many municipalities are taking action in response.
"WALK Friendly Ontario will provide much-deserved recognition for
municipalities that are working hard to improve the walking
experience," explained program co-founder Kate Hall, "but the benefits
don't stop there. Just by completing the application for designation,
communities will benchmark where they stand on more than 200 key
walkability indicators, a useful guide as they plan for improvement."
Sidewalk policies and infrastructure, street festivals, public art,
staff training, citizen engagement, and attractive public spaces are
just a few of the criteria that applicants will report on, before their
applications are reviewed and scored by a panel of experts.
"People who engage in physical activity are healthier, happier and live
longer, which is why keeping Ontario healthy is a key part of our
Action Plan for Health Care," said the Honourable Deb Matthews,
Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. "Walking is an easy and
inexpensive way for people to meet their daily physical activity
requirements, and helps to prevent chronic disease." In keeping with
these health benefits, supporters for the program also include the
Ontario Medical Association and the Heart and Stroke Foundation.
The WALK Friendly application was pilot tested in 2012 by five
communities - Hamilton, Kingston, Thunder Bay, London and Fort Erie -
and all gave it positive reviews. Now that the designation is
officially launched all five have said they plan to apply. The first
round of applications will be accepted between July 1st and August 31st. The Application Guide to help communities prepare is available at www.walkfriendly.ca.
SOURCE: Green Communities Canada
For further information:
Kate Hall, Program Manager, WALK Friendly Ontario, 705-489-2110 (home office), 705-457-7201 (cell), firstname.lastname@example.org.