The Town of Smiths Falls has been designated a 2015 Bronze WALK Friendly Community. This small community is working hard to create a culture of walking and active travel as evidenced in the creation of the Active Transit Plan, the use of the Pedestrian Linkage Study to guide practices and decision making, as well as investing in an indoor walking concourse.
Some highlights from Smiths Falls’ application include:
- The Town of Smiths Falls established a Traffic Advisory Committee in 2001 that includes 3-10 members, including local police that are appointed by Council for a 4-year term. The purpose of the committee is to research matters related to the control and movement of vehicular and pedestrian traffic within the Town. The Advisory Committee reviews and comments on complex Site Plans and Subdivision applications, and is a primary stakeholder that is engaged early in consultations on Master Planning work.
- The 2012 Pedestrian Linkages Study provides a long-term vision for the enhancement of pedestrian connections in order to knit together a system of bikeways, hiking and walking trails, sidewalks and community parks.
- Another great resource that is guiding development is the Downtown Revitalization and Waterfront Integration Master Plan. Finalized in 2013, the Plan aims to create a public greenway and trail along the Canal edge and integrate the waterfront with the downtown core. In the Downtown, the provision of a safe and pedestrian friendly environment was described as being key to the revitalization and long-term sustainability of the Core. To date the Town has reclaimed large tracks of water frontage for the construction of continuous parks and trails.
- Smiths Falls recognizes walking as an important activity for health and wellbeing, and has created an indoor walking concourse with a 1/5th km “Sportflex “track surface for walking comfort (5 laps = 1 km). The track is available free of charge to residents and non-residents alike 7 days a week. With minimal advertising and promotion, the track already experiences upwards of 35,000 users a year (almost 3,000 a month!).
- Chimo Elementary School in Smiths Falls is part of a School Travel Planning (STP) project supported by the Upper Canada District School Board. The Board provides an STP Coordinator to deliver the program. Chimo students also participate in Active and Safe Routes to School activities such as Walking/Wheeling Wednesdays and the Walking School Bus.
- The Town of Smiths Falls also maintains strong partnerships with community agencies and groups that share a healthy living mandate, including the Leeds Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit and the Rideau Environmental Action League (REAL). Through these partnerships, a number of projects and workshops have been held to educate the community about the benefits of walking, and to promote active living in nature and walkability as a sustainable means of transportation.