The tricky thing about pedestrian advocacy is that there is no obvious way to do it. It’s tied to so many issues–health & safety, the environment, community vibrancy and social connections, and social justice–which means everyone has different reasons for being involved. Meanwhile, there are an infinite number of ways to work towards a more walkable city–do we focus on specific trouble-spots? Do we push for one type of improvement over another? Do we promote walking through events and campaigns? Do we attempt to educate pedestrians, road-users, and policymakers? Prioritizing between hundreds of potential projects is difficult but necessary, given our limited capacity.
Our steering committee has been grappling with these questions since the beginning and I think it’s safe to say now that we’ve come up with a few initial answers. I’m only one member, but here’s how I would explain them:
- As advocates, our main priority is to push for a more walkable city–mainly by expressing our views to city councils, developers, and others who make decisions affecting walkability.
- Focusing on a few key areas of town that many members use is one way to narrow down an otherwise overwhelming number of ideas and to see real impact.
- Greater Victoria is a city with a lot of sidewalks, crosswalks, pedestrians, and hazards–we don’t have the capacity to highlight and prioritize every problem spot or potential improvement. Instead, we hope to work with and support neighbourhood associations and residents to raise concerns related to walkability. For individual residents, we plan on creating an Advocacy Toolkit to empower those who want to see a specific change in their neighbourhood.
- Promoting walking is not our first priority…but an annual event promoting walkability is a good way to promote the group, grow membership, and start a conversation.
- We are lucky to have a talented, connected, and diverse membership. By recognizing and leveraging what people bring to the table, we can take advantage of special opportunities to make an impact.
- It’s fun to learn about walkability and related urban design issues. We plan on participating in and promoting educational opportunities so that together we can all learn more about how we can make Greater Victoria a pedestrian paradise.
We’ll continue to ponder how we can maximize our impact given limited capacity. In the meantime, please have a look at our draft Strategic Plan and let us know what you think.
Click here to download the draft Strategic Plan: