Thursday, May 30, 2019

Prince Rupert to join the list of Healthy Living Communities on the Move in British Columbia

It took an extra month before City Council made their decision, but at Monday's City Council session the City of Prince Rupert joined the list of some 130 plus communities or organizations that have signed on to the BC Alliance for Healthy Living Communities On the Move Declaration.

The positive reaction to the request came following a presentation from Chris Lightfoot, the organizer of the local group Complete Streets for Prince Rupert.

At Monday's Council session, Mr. Lightfoot outlined some of the goals and ambitions for the program and how it would provide for a positive impact for Prince Rupert.

Mr. Lightfoot's original date for appearance was to be at the April Committee of the Whole session, but as council members noted following his presentation that had to be rescheduled owing to a mix up last month.

Among the themes the Complete Streets For Prince Rupert founder explored were the shared goals that his group and the BC Alliance for Healthy Living have when it comes to development of smart, fair and health safe transportation and mobility options in the community.

Towards delivery of such initiatives the declaration calls for increased support and funding for transit in communities across the province, development of a transportation strategy, commitments towards equity, acknowledgement of regional concerns and a commitment for safety and safe streets for those communities that sign on.

Mr. Lightfoot also made note as to how the declaration fits in well with the City of Prince Rupert's Official Community Plan, pointing towards the elements of commitment to community health and a sustainable approach to connecting various segments to the community.

Among the areas where the declaration mirrors some of the city's goals are in areas such as fostering opportunities for non vehicular transportation and integration with cycling trails and pedestrian links.

He also observed as to how as there are no cost or budget implications for the City with signing onto the declaration, that  it aligns well with the City's budget ambitions.

Following his presentation, City Council members made some inquires of the proposal, with Councillor Adey making the first commentary, first noting how he was thankful that Mr. Lightfoot did return to deliver his presentation following last months mix up on the arrangements for the Committee of the Whole.

He added that having had an opportunity to review the document and how he found many of the aspirational objectives fantastic opportunities to explore.

As for questions, the councillor asked if he had any idea as to what kind of level of interest the province has shown towards the initiative, as well as to ask from Mr. Lighfoot's perspective what are the two or three most doable projects that could be taken on.

As for the provincial interest Mr. Lightfoot noted that the province has opened up discsussion on their active transportation strategy, he thought it was a positive step, though he did not have any details as to how far along the province may be on acting on the declaration, adding that he was cautiously optimistic.

When it comes to local issues, he noted that from the Complete Streets initiative they have called for a complete pathway from East to West, through Third Avenue West, one which he notes would be safe, accessible and enjoyable for people in wheelchairs, bicycles and cars.

To reinforce that theme he posed a few questions for council to consider.

"Would you feel comfortable letting your eight year old ride across town along Third Avenue?  Would an elderly person feel comfortable crossing the street, or get through downtown on a power chair or wheelchair?"

He observed how a good first step for the city would be to review the intersections of the city where there are problems and work to remedy those issues. He also noted that many parents drive their children to school and the City may wish to examine why that is and what it will take to get youngsters more active.

Councillor Skelton-Morven  also spoke following Mr. Lightfoot's notes,  thanking him for his presentation on the evening.

Later in the Regular Council session Council members would adopt the declaration, with Councillor Mirau speaking in favour of the motion. With Mr. Mirau making note that despite the snafu of a month ago, it was a happy coincidence that it came up on the agenda during Bike to Work Week

He also pointed to cross section of consensus that the declaration offers, including those of mobility challenges, businesses, environmental outcomes and human health and safety all coming together.

You can review Mr. Lightfoot's presentation to Council from the City's Video archive starting at the beginning of the City's Committee of the Whole session.

To view the Declaration for Communities on the Move see the BC Alliance for Healthy Living website.

You can explore more about Complete Streets for Prince Rupert from their website, Facebook page or twitter feed.

Further notes from the City's Monday Council session can be found from our Council Timeline, while a wider overview of council's work can be reviewed on our Council Discussion points archive.

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