By Laura Shutiak
This week, Calgarians got a first look at a 208-page document written to push Calgary to become an Active City by 2030. Written by a diverse group of volunteers from across many sectors, including sports, recreation, active transportation, tourism and economic development, the plan envisions a city where the “active” economy drives “economic, human, social and environmental prosperity.”
The group, called the Active City Collective, was born from the ashes of the failed Olympic Bid plebiscite, and was led by a pair of professors at Mount Royal University – David Legg and David Finch. The document is loaded with data and puts a strong business case forward for the economic impact of the active economy. I’d encourage you to take a look at the proposals.
A number of Bike Calgary volunteers took part in the ActiveCITY Summit 2020 on two days this week, as board members and leaders shared the plan and outlined how the city can make the playbook work to help build our city. Lots of our work around building the 5A path system and the Bike to School project fit very well into the shared vision. Bike Calgary can and should be a leader, working to make this plan happen.
“I think of the active economy being the intersection of people and place. Cyclists, commuters and the infrastructure we need to ride efficiently and safely are a big part of this,” noted Rob Crooks, a Bike Calgary community rep for Bowness. “There’s an opportunity to leverage the concept of community prosperity, and build on both physical and mental health and wellness through cycling commuting in both workplace and school settings.”
The challenge will be when it comes to implementation. The document notes that fragmentation across these many sectors mean that although groups have the same goals, they are not always pulling in the same direction. We lose opportunity and momentum because of competition between organizations and barriers between communities. The next steps for the collective is to build an organization that can help break those down. They are looking at finding sustainable funding so the group can work to bring people together. They are determining some “quick wins” , which will be developed out of the next planning stage. Bike Calgary, through our Infrastructure, Bike to School, and #sharedstreets teams, should push make fixing infrastructure issues and path fragments one of the first things on the To Do list.
Three of the most interesting speakers were city councillors Jeff Davison, Gyoti Gondek and George Chahal. They all spoke about how the plan is a great starting point for a discussion about the city of the future. Davison spoke mostly about the hockey arena and event centre as a catalyst for the Active Economy, while Gondek and Chahal spoke about access, equity and inclusiveness.
Gondek shared an anecdote about how there is a rule that crosswalks can’t be put in mid-block, so as a result, we force people to artificial crossing locations based on blocks, instead of on natural routes or amenities. She said Calgary needs to change these roads standards, look at mobility options and lead by example.
“I appreciated the participating City Councillors comments and supports – the reality as Bike Calgary has pointed out – is that the City is planning to decrease budget supports for active transportation in current budget plans. That development, and with a municipal election looming, is unsettling,” said Crooks.
It’s great that Bike Calgary has been part of this initiative, and we’ll keep you posted on how we are involved moving forward.