The vision is simple: “More people walking for health, leisure and transportation in safe, beautiful environments.”
The Walkability Committee was formed in 2010, inspired by a WalkON event featuring Gil Penalosa from 8-80 Cities. Leaders and citizens in Thunder Bay, including Thunder Bay District Health Unit staff, helped develop our own walkability vision and strategy. The committee has been working towards creating a more walkable city ever since.
The Walkability Committee is part of the EarthCare Mobility Working group, which was created to reach the goals of Thunder Bay’s 2014-2020 EarthCare Sustainability Plan (PDF) and Active Transportation Plan.
Goals of Thunder Bay's Walkability Committee
1. Build on partnerships
- The committee is currently made up of citizens, community agencies and City of Thunder Bay staff from parks, planning, engineering and transit. The TBDHU chairs and coordinates the committee.
2. Increase awareness of the importance of a walkable Thunder Bay
- The TBDHU launched Imagine a More Walkable Thunder Bay in fall 2012 to increase public awareness of how walkable cities are the best places to live, work, play and do business.
- The Walkability Committee provides free presentations on the importance of walkability to community groups.
3. Improve infrastructure (e.g. sidewalks) & policy
- The Committee is working to ensure the City of Thunder Bay includes policies to encourage a walkable Thunder Bay by addressing street design (“complete streets”), urban sprawl, more greenspace and the location of retail outlets, businesses, etc.
- In 2015 The Walkability Committee supported the City in applying for a Walk Friendly Designation.
- The committee helped prepare Thunder Bay’s 2015-2018 Corporate Strategic Plan and will be involved in the consultations for the City’s new Transportation Master Plan.
4. Improve pedestrian and cyclist safety
- The committee is investigating pedestrian and cyclist safety campaigns that encourage motorists to drive with more care.
5. Create more “Open Streets” events
- “Open Streets” or “ciclovias” are events where streets are opened to people and closed to cars. People traffic replaces car traffic, and the streets become “paved parks.” It’s like a street fair where people of all backgrounds can come walk, bike, dance, skate and do just about any physical activity. An added benefit of open streets is that they allow people to discover how easy and convenient it is to reach places by walking and cycling when safe facilities are provided.
- EcoSuperior hosted two "Open Streets" events in 2014 and one in 2015.
Walk-Friendly Community Designation
In 2015, TBDHU partnered with the City of Thunder Bay to apply for a Walk Friendly Community Designation through Canada Walks. WALK Friendly Communities is a recognition program that encourages municipalities to create and improve the conditions for walking by awarding Bronze, Silver, Gold or Platinum designations. The program uses a framework to assess 5 dimensions of a community’s walk friendliness, including: planning, engineering, education and encouragement, and enforcement and evaluation.
As a result of the 2015 application, Thunder Bay received an Honourable Mention, indicating that there is still a great deal work to be done to transform our city into a walkable community. Canada Walks provided a feedback report (PDF) including strengths and top priorities for improving walkability.
Next Steps Walkability Event
On March 3, 2015, landscape architect Paul Young made a presentation to Thunder Bay residents about safety, health, improving quality of life and building up our local economy. Community members were encouraged to think of ways to engage their neighbours and their councillors on walkability matters within their wards. Attendees were split up into their respective ward groups and asked to brainstorm answers to 2 questions:
- What is one top priority in your ward for improving walkability?
- What strategies could be used to engage other people who are not here tonight?
The results will guide the Walkability Committee’s next steps.
See a summary on this infographic:
You can help too:
- Take part in City of Thunder Bay planning consultations.
- Talk it up with people you know.
- Let city councillors and other decision makers know you support walkable community design.
Follow the Walkable Thunder Bay Facebook group to find out about Walkability events and news.
Join the Active Transportation Thunder Bay Facebook group for updates on new research and advocacy opportunities.
For Further Information
Call the Physical Activity Program: (807) 625-5900
or toll-free 1-888-294-6630