Canada needs a national collaborative of organizations that support walking and walkability.
That’s the top finding of a recent survey of Canada’s walking movement.
The survey of local and regional organizations was conducted earlier this year by Ryerson University in association with Green Communities Canada (Canada Walks). A total of 128 responses were received from community advocacy groups, walking clubs, public health, non-profit organizations, municipalities, and others.
Two-thirds of survey respondents supported a pan-Canadian walking collaborative as a way to share ideas, information, and best practices, and develop funding sources. A collaborative would strengthen the voice for walking by linking groups across the country, they said.
“It would give a sense of a larger organized movement that would give weight to local-level efforts if local groups were members,” said one respondent.
Groups said they promote walking through media and public education.
They also advocate for walking infrastructure, beautification of the pedestrian realm, and walking supportive policies.
Although some great work is being done to improve the conditions for walking and encourage people to build walking into their daily travel routine, financial resources are generally slim to non-existent, and there is a heavy dependence on volunteers. Respondents said they could also benefit from coaching and support.
In addition to the establishment of a national collaboration, the survey report recommends:
- funding for groups from senior levels of government and others
- inclusion of walking in transportation surveys
- increased public awareness
- more attention to pedestrian master planning by municipalities
- walking promotion (e.g., by public health, professional associations)
- research of public perceptions, and barriers that need to be addressed.
Survey results are accessible through a summary report produced by Graduate students within the School of Urban and Regional Planning at Ryerson University, under the direction of Assistant Professor Raktim Mitra.