With the Walk Friendly Assessment tool under development, summer vacations, and the relocation of one of the Walk Friendly Ontario (WFO) project staff to Canmore, Alberta, it has been very quiet on the blogging front.  Then September arrived. The week of Sept 17 – 21 was action packed!

To start the week, we issued a media release announcing the pilot communities that will test the walk friendly assessment tool this year. In addition, to the City of London, the City of Thunder Bay, the Town of Fort Erie, and the Municipality of South Huron (Exeter), we are delighted to say it is official that the City of Hamilton will also be participating.

On Sept 19, the long awaited Chief Coroner’s report on pedestrian deaths was released, containing excellent recommendations to increase pedestrian safety and make Ontario more walk friendly.  Canada Walks, the department of Green Communities Canada to which the WFO project belongs, issued a media release in conjunction with the Coroner’s report, applauding the recommendations.

If that was not enough excitement for one week, the week wrapped up with the two-day Ontario Professional Planner’s Institute Symposium: Healthy Communities and Planning for Active Transportation.  The theme for the Sept/Oct Ontario Planning Journal is Active Transportation, with several great articles, including features about two of our pilot communities, Thunder Bay and Hamilton and a piece about Walk Friendly Ontario.  In conjunction with the Symposium, OPPI commissioned IPSOS Reid to conduct a survey of Ontarians opinions about Sustainable Transportation.  If they were community planners, Ontarians would place more emphasis on public transit (73%).  Of course, every transit trip begins and ends with a walk, so this has huge implications for walk friendly planning.  54% of Ontarians would also place more emphasis on walking infrastructure.

On a final note this week, the Oct 2012 journal Diabetes Care was released with an alarming report about the effect of unwalkable neighbourhoods on the incidence of diabetes, especially on new immigrants in low-income neighbourhoods.  An excellent article explaining this issue appeared in Atlantic Cities which stated: “In the most startling finding, the study found that a new immigrant in a less walkable neighborhood was more than 50 percent more likely to develop diabetes than a long-term resident of Toronto living in one of the most walkable areas, regardless of neighborhood income.”  This study was completed in Toronto, by St. Michael’s hospital.


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