What’s Up in Halifax? A Quick Update

While waiting for the draft of the Green Network Plan, we’ve been busy engaging in other sustainable planning “stuff” in HRM. Want to learn a little bit more? Here’s a brief summary:
ONE.
The Atlantic Active Transportation Summit took place on May 23rd-24th, attracting advocates, planners, community members, politicians, and academics together to talk about Active Transportation in the Atlantic Provinces. Some cool takeaways:
1. in St. John’s, NFLD, 90% of residents surveyed indicated that more bike paths are needed within the City, so the municipality has pursued initiatives such as “car-free Sunday” to begin building more support. They’ve even expanded the definition of Active Transportation to include the use of small rowboats (dories), which more and more people are using to get around.
2. The Connect2 program, which funds active transportation projects around Nova Scotia, leveraged $14 million from Municipalities, Universities, Private Sector, and NGOs last year. One of these accomplishments includes the Blue Route.
3. In New Brunswick, after discovering that 40% of provincial expenditures were healthcare related, the province began focusing on connections because health and the built environment, and committing to investments in active transportation infrastructure.
4. When designing for active transportation, a question to ask yourself is: would this design be easy to navigate for a person with a disability? A good example is the way curb cuts are designed – if they’re designed with people with disabilities in mind, it makes everyone’s lives easier!
5. When you’re seeking funding for AT in your community, building interest and support in the community first is crucial – would the community prefer sidewalks, or bikelanes first? Is there anything else preventing them from using AT, other than lack of infrastructure. For instance, in Membertou, it was crucially important that they combine good animal control (to prevent attacks from stray dogs) with cycling infrastructure, to help residents feel safe using AT.
6. In suburban and rural communities, the integration of AT with transit is crucial. If AT options can fill the “last mile” of everyone’s trip, transit becomes more efficient and convenient for all.
7.  There is a clear and robust relationship between walkability and real estate value, and this is less vulnerable to external trends. If we want to build a financially secure city, we NEED to built infrastructure for Active Transportation. The added benefit is the decreased cost to society. If you want to learn more about this, check out our THREAD on Twitter.
TWO.
Our HRM Alliance has signed on to a community-led initiative to change the way we talk about transit in HRM. This initiative is called “Leading with Transit”. Following a series of community meetings, the coordinators of the initiative summarized it as such:
As you may know Leading with Transit is supported by many business groups, non-profit groups, and resident groups who believe public transit is the key to change. It is central to the long-term vision of HRM. Transit connects people and places. It determines urban form. It affects people’s lives. For those who can’t afford a car and for those who may be too old or too young or just not up to driving, transit is key to connecting with friends, discovering the city, providing access to services, educational and work opportunities.
Investment in great transit is the only way to meet our collective expectations for healthier, more environmentally responsible communities, and for public spaces (particularly streets) that are not dominated by cars, focused on parking and designed primarily for movement.
To accomplish this, transit needs to be for everyone and it needs to be the obvious best option and the first choice in the Downtown, the Centre, the Suburbs, and in rural areas.
Change will only happen because the community understands it, wants it, will work for it and invest in it. Leading with Transit will involve the community in an open and collaborative process to bring together global expertise (evidence) with local knowledge, culture, climate, values and economic prospects.
Once there’s a website where you can follow along and participate in this discussion, I’ll share it in the OHA newsletter! In the meantime, feel free to come out to one of the three steering team meetings:

Concept Team: June 18th 5:30-7pm (5670 Spring Garden Road, Suite 609)

Investment Team: June 13th 5:30-7pm  (5670 Spring Garden Road, Suite 609)

Communications and Outreach team: June 13th 10am-11am (Ecology Action Centre, 2705 Fern Lane)

THREE.
The Cogswell Interchange Redevelopment project is well underway, and we’ve been engaging with Councillors and the public in order to advocate for the best, most sustainable redevelopment project possible. Our vision for Cogswell is that it be precedent setting for HRM; that we seize the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of redeveloping an entire downtown neighbourhood and make it an affordable, livable destination for residents and tourists. On Tuesday, June 5th, Regional Council approved the road network design, despite a letter from 23 different groups (largely representing knowledgeable planners, architects, developers, etc.) imploring them to reject the design and return to their 7 original principles. You can watch the debate at Council here, or read more about what happened from The Coast or CBC. As a project with the potential to significantly affect the sustainability, well-being, and vision of the Region, we’ll be keeping a close eye on the Cogswell Redevelopment, and will keep you up to date! In the meantime, see if you can tell the difference between HRM’s promotional video for Cogswell, and a video about another downtown neighbourhood redevelopment project from Hamilton, Ontario. Can you figure out which one we like better, and why?

 

 

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