Canadian Walking Master Class Visits Hamilton, ON; Moncton, NB; Kelowna, BC; Metro Vancouver, BC; Whitehorse, YT



    Walking takes a big step forward in Canada!

    TORONTO, May 12 /CNW/ - Between May 12 and June 10, 2009, the Canadian
Walking Master Class will be traveling across Canada, bringing a team of
international walkability experts to five cities.
    The Canadian Walking Master Class is a unique project that supports
putting people at the heart of their communities and encourages decision
making to ensure active, safe and sustainable places across Canada.
    Green Communities Canada, in partnership with Walk21, is proud to host
Master Class 2009 with participating cities: Hamilton, Moncton, Kelowna, Metro
Vancouver and Whitehorse.
    The Master Class will bring international experience and inspiration into
these cities to support local expertise and initiatives and to build a
national database of case studies and best practice notes for all communities
across Canada.
    "Implementing initiatives such as this in Hamilton will shape our future
as a healthy, vibrant community," Mayor Fred Eisenberger of Hamilton said.
"Hamilton reinforced its commitment to creating a walkable community last
April when we signed and adopted the International Charter for Walking."
    "The Master Class is a fantastic opportunity to wed local expertise and
initiative with international experience and inspiration," Bronwen Thornton,
Development Director, Walk21 says, "we are looking forward to working with
these communities to support the work they are doing and to build case studies
and national best practice notes that will support others across Canada."
    Jacky Kennedy, Director, Canada Walks, Green Communities Canada notes
"there was so much interest in the Walkability Roadshow that we conducted with
Walk21 in 2007, that we felt we needed to repeat the project for other cities,
to build on the success and momentum developed in 2007 and to continue
promoting walking as key to vibrant healthy communities."
    The Master Class will spend three days in each city, inspiring
politicians and senior decision makers, training and developing professionals,
engaging members of the public and providing ideas and input to specific
walkability issues and opportunities.


    
                        Canadian Walking Master Class
                             Media Backgrounder
    

    Between May 12 and June 10, 2009, the Canadian Walking Master Class will
be traveling across Canada, bringing a team of international walkability
experts to five cities.
    The Canadian Walking Master Class project will support the implementation
of active and sustainable transportation policies and plans in five Canadian
cities: Moncton, NB; Hamilton, ON; Kelowna, BC; Metro Vancouver, BC; and
Whitehorse, YT.
    Through a program of workshops, walkshops and seminars, led by
international experts and facilitated by Green Communities Canada,
participants will share and evolve best practice and implement key initiatives
to help deliver communities where people choose to walk.
    The Canadian Walking Master Class project is funded through a grant from
Transport Canada's Moving on Sustainable Transportation (MOST) initiative.

    Background

    The quality and amount of walking as an everyday activity, in any given
area, is an established and unique primary indicator of a community's quality
of life. And yet across the world we are walking less and at our peril
becoming less healthy, our transport systems more inefficient and our
environments more polluted. Authorities, keen to create healthier and more
efficient communities and places, can make significant advancements towards
these goals by changing municipal policies and practices that would result in
a greater modal share for walking and other active travel modes.
    Over the past 50 years many transportation professionals have been
trained and educated in the movement of people and goods through a motorized
transportation system. This has led to a shrinking number of trips made with
other modes, like walking and biking, ranking Canada as one of the lowest
countries for active transportation. Across Canada, only about 12% of trips to
the grocery store, work, the library or school are made on foot or by bicycle.
While this is higher than the 7% rate in the United States, it is much lower
than in the Netherlands (46%) and Denmark (41%) (Pucher J, Dijkstra L.
Promoting safe walking and cycling to improve public health: lessons from the
Netherlands and Germany. American Journal of Public Health 2003;
93(9):1509-1516). The Walking Master Class will lend power and influence on
how transportation is viewed, showing how it is possible, even in Canada, to
move walking to the top of the road user hierarchy.
    Walking, when given priority in community plans, can play a significant
role in meeting local transportation demand management goals by shifting
motorized trips to active travel trips. The implications for reducing traffic
congestion are huge and bring with it the associated benefits of reduced
greenhouse gas emissions and other air pollutants.

    What are Walkable Communities?

    Walkable communities are healthy, vibrant communities, where citizens
rely less on their cars and choose walking more often as a form of everyday
transportation.
    Walkable communities encourage walking by making it safe, convenient, and
attractive to do so, which is important for many reasons:

    
    -   Health - Regular, daily walking reduces health risks such as obesity,
        diabetes, and heart disease
        (http://www.active2010.ca/Documents/active2010-strategy-e.pdf);
(http://www.heartandstroke.com/site/c.ikIQLcMWJtE/b.3820627/k.DB5D/The_built_e
nvironment_physical_activiy_heart_disease_and_stroke.htm); "Walking is the
        nearest activity to perfect exercise" - Professor J. Morris and
        Dr. Adrianne Hardman, 1997
        (http://www.ramblers.org.uk/info/factsandfigures/health.htm)
    -   Environment - Replacing short car trips with walking can improve
        local air quality and can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, helping
        Ontarians meet climate change objectives. A short trip on foot to
        school by 9 families participating in a 'walking school bus' can
        reduce greenhouse gases by 1,000 kg over one year
        (http://www.saferoutestoschool.ca/)
    -   Traffic - More people walking means less congestion on roads, reduced
        requirements for road infrastructure and maintenance, and more
        awareness of pedestrians by drivers thereby increasing pedestrian
        safety
   
(www.railstotrails.org/resources/documents/whatwedo/atfa/ATFA_20081020.pdf)
    -   Community cohesion - More people walking encourages even more people
        to walk, increasing social interaction, lessening crime and vandalism
        due to more eyes on the streets, heightening the sense of community
        belonging, pride, and spirit (Leyden,K. Social Capital and the Built
        Environment: The Importance of Walkable Neighbourhoods, American
        Journal of Public Health 2003; 93: 1546 -51).
    -   Economy - When a population shift to walking occurs, health care
        costs are reduced as a result of the health benefits of walking; when
        business districts cater to walkers instead of drivers their
        prosperity increases; highly walkable districts are magnets for
        tourism (Go for Green, The Business Case for Active Transportation,
        March 2004)
    -   Fuel savings - Individuals save money by using their cars less, and
        demand for a dwindling supply of oil is lessened.
(www.railstotrails.org/resources/documents/whatwedo/atfa/ATFA_20081020.pdf)
    

    The International Charter for Walking (www.walk21.com) provides both the
strategic direction and detailed actions for creating walkable communities in
all the world's neighbourhoods. To date the Charter has been signed and
adopted by communities across Canada and around the World. The Charter was
adapted for use as a benchmarking tool for the Canadian Walkability Roadshow
in 2007 (see Case Studies at http://www.canadawalks.ca). This tool has since
been refined and implemented across the United Kingdom and in several European
countries. The Canadian Walking Master Class will continue to build this
international momentum as we again use the Charter to support Canadian
communities to build vibrant, healthy places to live.

    The Master Class Program

    The Master Class will spend three days in each city:

    
    -   Day 1 - Local Walking Action Planning - to include expert input to
        current issues and ideas; inspiration for politicians and senior
        decision makers; and engagement with people from the local community,
        including NGOs. The media will be encouraged to promote the
        initiative and a practical framework and set of relevant local
        actions will be developed with the help of a team of international
        experts.
    -   Day 2 - Best Practice Notes - walking audit and an intense workshop
        with experts, project leaders and select professionals will develop a
        Best Practice Note against the nominated principle of the
        International Charter for Walking. It will be a concentrated
        technical session to share ideas, debate details and agree to the
        dimensions of the note for drafting.
    -   Day 3 - Regional Workshop - communities in the vicinity of the host
        city will attend a full-day professional training with presentations
        from the experts and workshops to create local action plans.

    The Canadian Walking Master Class will produce a Case Studies Report and
Best Practice Notes with all documents published on www.canadawalks.ca.

    Canadian Walking Master Class Dates and Key Contacts

    Hamilton, Ontario: May 12, 13, 14
    Contact: Sharon Mackinnon, Hamilton Public Health Services, Healthy
    Living Division, City of Hamilton
    Ph: (905) 546-2424 X3522
    Email: Sharon.Mackinnon@hamilton.ca

    Moncton, New Brunswick: May 20, 21, 22
    Contact: Jennifer Dallaire, Recreation, Parks, Tourism and Culture, City
    of Moncton
    Ph: (506) 389-5971
    Email: jennifer.dallaire@moncton.ca

    Kelowna, British Columbia: May 25, 26, 27, 28
    Contacts: Wendy Majewski, Marketing & Communications Coordinator,
    Community & Media Relations - Transportation, City of Kelowna
    Ph: (250) 469-8817 Fax: 250-862-3312
    Email: wmajewski@kelowna.ca

    Mike Kittmer, Active Transportation Coordinator, City of Kelowna
    Ph: (250) 469-8531
    Email: mkittmer@kelowna.ca

    Whitehorse, Yukon: June 1, 2, 3
    Contact: Sabine Schweiger, Environmental Coordinator, Engineering and
    Environmental Services, City of Whitehorse
    Ph: (867) 668-8312
    Email: sabine.schweiger@whitehorse.ca

    Metro Vancouver, British Columbia: June 8, 9, 10
    Contact: Cara Fisher, Built Environment and Active Transportation
    Coordinator
    BCHLA Physical Actvity Strategy
    BC Recreation and Parks Association
    Ph: (604) 629-0965 Ext. 255
    Email: cfisher@bcrpa.bc.ca
    

    Project Partners

    Canada Walks

    Canada Walks is an initiative of Green Communities Canada that aims to
become the national body to go to for information and action about walkable
communities and active transportation across Canada. The mission of Canada
Walks is to change the current social paradigm so that walkable communities
are the cultural and social norm in Canada. (www.canadawalks.ca)

    Green Communities Canada

    Green Communities Canada is a national association of over 30
community-based non-profit organizations that deliver innovative environmental
programs and services, with a focus on household and community action.
(www.greencommunitiescanada.org)

    Walk21

    Walk21 is an international organisation, professional network and
consultancy service that exists to champion the development of healthy,
sustainable and efficient communities where people can and do choose to walk.
Each year Walk21 hosts an international conference that brings together
visionary and influential planners, practitioners, politicians and advocates,
to develop and share best practice. For more information please visit
www.walk21.com.

    Purpose

    
    Objectives:
    1.  To promote walking as an indicator of sustainable, healthy places and
        demonstrate the benefits of walkable communities to reducing the
        impacts of climate change.
    2.  To encourage and educate transportation professionals, municipal
        decision-makers, local NGOs and ENGOs, and members of the public to
        commit and invest in practical actions which build sustainable,
        liveable places where people choose to walk.
    3.  To research, publish and share Canadian best practice as part of the
        continuing process of ensuring the International Charter for Walking
        is a practical delivery framework for local action.
    4.  To build and support a national network of skilled professionals
        across Canada to share and evolve best practice and deliver walkable
        communities.
    5.  To showcase the positive outcomes for each city and to follow their
        progress for one year following completion of the project.

    Outcomes:
    1.  A national political understanding, appreciation and commitment to
        sustainable, healthy communities where people choose to walk.
    2.  A national community of connected professionals skilled with the
        tools and knowledge of how to deliver more Canadian walkable
        communities.
    3.  Engaged communities demanding infrastructure and services that give
        residents the chance to choose to walk as an everyday activity.
    4.  Projects planned with detailed timelines for completion, including
        infrastructure upgrades and programs to track the increases in the
        number of people walking.

    Outputs:
    1.  A set of Canadian Best Practice Notes structured around the eight
        principles of the International Charter for Walking.
    2.  Four Walking Action Plans/set of local commitments to ensure walking
        is encouraged and supported in each participating city/town.
    3.  Initiatives implemented and evaluated in exemplar communities to
        create more walkable environments and demonstrate national best
        practice.
    4.  Collaboration and engagement with Canadian professional associations
        through presentations at conferences, forums, articles in industry
        newsletters and respected national magazines: Federation of Canadian
        Municipalities, ACT Canada, Transportation Association of Canada,
        Canadian Institute of Planners, Association of Municipalities of
        Ontario, and others.
    5.  Case Studies Report of Master Class.

    Program

    The project will unfold through the following steps:
    1.  Completing the Questionnaire to benchmark against International
        Charter for Walking and to identify opportunities and challenges
        within each Municipality and community
    2.  Analysing results and doing Homework to develop Agenda for each
        community and prepare for the Master Class community visits
    3.  Holding Group Webinars with all community representatives to share
        issues, ideas and initiatives
    4.  Conducting the Master Class in each community over three days of
        workshops, walkshops and public meetings.
    5.  Following up with host cities at three months and six months
        intervals post-Master Classes to determine results.
    6.  Presenting and outreach to national associations and organizations
        regarding the Walking Master Class project and results.
    7.  Presenting project and results to Walk21 International Conference on
        Walking and Liveable Communities 2009 in New York City, October 2009.
    

    The Expert Team

    Jacky Kennedy, Director, Walking Programs for Green Communities Canada.

    Jacky has directed many successful walking programs, including: Active &
Safe Routes to School, which she initiated in Toronto in 1996; YWALK Youth
initiatives; co-hosting Walk21 Toronto 2007 with the City of Toronto in
October 2007; host and organizer of the World Record Walk 2007; collaborating
with Walk21 on a series of walkability initiatives including the Canadian
Walkability Roadshow.
    Jacky's background is in project management at IBM but her children
motivated her to join the environmental movement. Prior to joining Green
Communities Canada Jacky was involved in many successful sustainable community
projects.

    Bronwen Thornton, Development Director Walk21, United Kingdom

    Bronwen Thornton is the Development Director at Walk21. Bronwen worked
with Jacky to deliver the Canadian Walkability Roadshow 2007. She is currently
working with a number of European Cities to support and implement walking
initiatives. She is also working with people all over the world as they
utilise the International Charter for Walking to support local action, to
underpin strategic directions and gain political support for walking.
    Prior to joining Walk21 she was the Consultancy Services Manager for
Living Streets in the UK where she was responsible for developing and
delivering Community Street Audits, bespoke training for local authorities and
practical workshops on active transportation issues. This gives her a very
hands-on understanding of walking environments and local challenges. Coming
from Australia she brings with her experience in international walking and
cycling transport issues, public consultation, strategic transport policy and
project management.

    Rodney Tolley, Honorary Research Fellow at Staffordshire University

    Rodney is an Honorary Research Fellow at Staffordshire University, where
he taught for over 30 years. Rodney researches and publishes in the fields on
environmental traffic management and walking and bicycle use in integrated
travel plans. He is the editor of what has become 'the bible' of green mode
planning, 'The Greening of Urban Transport: Planning for Walking and Cycling
in Western Countries' (1997). Recently updated to a third edition,
'Sustainable Transport: Planning for Walking and Cycling in Urban
Environments' (2003) is also now available.
    He served as specialist technical advisor to the UK Government Inquiry
into walking in 2001 and provides a consultancy service to a number of clients
in the UK and overseas including many cities in Australia and New Zealand.
    Rodney is the Conference Director of Walk21 - a global partnership of
experts that focuses on providing conferences, training and consultancy
services, with the aim of raising international awareness of walking issues
and supporting professionals in the development and delivery of best practice.
He has chaired the Programme Committee for each of the Walk21 Conferences
since 2000 and will do so again for the New York City in October 2009. Through
these activities he has a unique oversight of developing practice in walking
in the UK, Europe, Australasia and across the world.

    Paul W. Young, Public Space Workshop

    Paul Young is an urban designer and registered landscape architect. He
has worked for over 18 years in a consultant-team setting on urban design,
streetscape and park design. Paul also works at a community health centre in
Toronto with community groups on transportation and land use planning issues.
    He has designed and facilitated planning workshops throughout Ontario for
communities that want to improve their walking, cycling and park
infrastructure. Paul has worked on streetscapes, parks and bike lane projects
from vision through to construction. He was involved with the demolition of
Toronto's East Gardiner Expressway and the redesign of Lakeshore Blvd. as well
as the planning of Markham's "new urbanist" community of Cornell.
    Paul's work is rooted in the belief that a shift towards sustainability
requires meaningful public engagement. He has been invited to speak at various
conferences and universities to share his experiences with the public and
planning for healthier communities.

    
    Dr. Catherine O'Brien, Cape Breton University/Centre for Sustainable
    Transportation
    

    Catherine is a leading Canadian expert on child and youth friendly
planning. She is a professor at Cape Breton University and a Research
Associate with the Centre for Sustainable Transportation. She has another
research area which brings her great delight: happiness. She developed the
concept of sustainable happiness to merge ideas from happiness studies and
sustainability.

    Jody Rosenblatt Naderi teaches and conducts research at the graduate
faculty of Texas A&M University's department of landscape architecture and
urban planning. Her current research focuses on the pedestrian environment as
a setting for renewal and health, and on the safety effect of street trees.
Professor Rosenblatt Naderi has won numerous design and communication awards
and has published her work in pedestrian design nationally and
internationally. She holds a master's degree in landscape architecture from
Harvard University. Professor Rosenblatt Naderi is currently on sabbatical
conducting research in walkability and the design of contemplative walks at
the University of Guelph in Ontario.

    Adrian Bell

    Adrian Bell is a transport planner with over 20 years experience in
public sector transport policy and a specialism in active transportation. He
joined Applied Information Group in November 2008 to open a North American
office where he currently leads a project for clients TransLink. Adrian has
worked in local government for most of his career both at local and regional
levels. He has a wide experience of planning, policy and behavioural change
aspects of transport including advising UK and European projects. Before AIG
he was Active Travel Development manager at Transport for London with
responsibility for the Mayor's behavioural change programmes to increase
walking and cycling. As part this role he developed Legible London and the
2012 Olympic walking and cycling programmes.

    Jim Walker

    Jim is Chair of Walk21 and has been involved in managing and promoting
access internationally for more than 20 years. He runs The Access Company
consultancy service in the UK managing projects which include National Rights
of Way policy, Walk London, the Jubilee Walkway Trust and the Jubilee
Greenway.
    Jim is Chief Executive of Walk England working with the Department of
Health to develop and promote walking initiatives nationally. He is Chair of
the Active Travel Advisory Group (ATAG) for the Olympic Games in London in
2012 and a Commissioner on the Board of The London Waterways Commission.
    Jim is Communications Director for the European Union's 'Walk Europe'
Project, Pedestrian Quality Needs (PQN) and is about to lead on the new Active
Access initiative partnering a further 15 cities in a STEER project funded by
the European Union.
    Jim has four little Walkers who keep him outside doing it not just
talking about it as often as possible!





For further information:

For further information: Jacky Kennedy, Director, Canada Walks, Green
Communities Canada, Mobile: (416) 992-5496, Email: info@saferoutestoschool.ca

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