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October 2008
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From Planning to Action

I recently opened up my notes from the TAC Conference back in September and was inspired. Too often do we attend something and never again reflect upon it. While organizing my desk the other day I found my notes and decided to spend a few minutes with them.

The notes I was re-reading were from the workshop I attended the Wednesday morning, called Active Transportation and Sustainable Communities. It wasn’t so much what we talked about that got my attention again but the conclusions the moderator had drawn after listening to all of us.

A little background to the morning. It started with  a three  presentations  on active tranportation from Jacky Kennedy from Green Communities Canada, Daniel Egan, Manager of Pedestrian and Cycling Infrastructure for the City of Toronto, and Marc Joliceur from the CIty of MontrealPlanning and Infrastructure Office. After their presentations we broke into community groups representing various parts of Canada; Canada West (Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary), Hamilton,  GTA West (including Mississauga, Vaughn and Oakville), Toronto, Montreal and East Coast Canada. In our groups we are asked to answer the following questions:

  • Are active transportation levels in your community rising, falling or standing still?
  • What actions have made a difference? Why have they made a difference?
  • What factors have helped you succeed?
  • What have been your biggest challenges?

We spent the last hour taking a few minutes to discuss what we had learned in each of our regions with respect to our questions. The overall theme was that active transportation was increasing, but at a very slow rate. We all wanted to know how we could get more people to ride, walk, run, etc to work?

As the price of gas rises and we place a higher value on our environment active transport will increase. Our moderator came to two conclusions with regards to what each of the districts presented, we were beginning to find success because we had:

 1) Made the ordinary, extraordinary:
 2) Put care in  all in the details

And the final conclusions of the session were with regards to going from planning to action. To often are these great ideas for ‘green’ initiatives only plans. Making them become a reality can be cumbersome, overwhelming and sometimes very deflating. In order to have success one should always include the following:

  1. Policy Statements: to give direction  
  2. Champions: someone credible who supports the project from initiation
  3. Land-Use: consider all the parties involved
  4. Capitalize on public interest
  5. Look for new money
  6. Move from policy to action