All posts by Amanda Macdonald

Greater Victoria Election Candidates Challenged to Take Positions On Transportation Questions

Victoria – Victorians for Transportation Choice (VTC), a collection of seven groups who work for better transportation solutions for all, has launched a candidate questionnaire for the October 15th municipal elections. The VTC hopes to inform the voting public about candidates’ ideas and platforms on a surprisingly wide range of transportation questions.

The VTC’s member groups – Capital Bike; Greater Victoria Placemaking Network; British Columbia Sustainable Energy Association; Walk On, Victoria; Vancouver Island Transportation Corridor Coalition (VITCC) Action Committee Of People With Disabilities (ACPD); and the Better Transit Alliance of Greater Victoria – want our communities to shift to transit, walking, biking, and rolling, as a means to meet transportation needs while improving livability, while reducing carbon pollution and other harm. 

“Municipal governments in Greater Victoria have take steps to provide healthy and affordable transportation choices, including investing in bike and roll infrastructure and prioritizing public transit over highway expansion”, said Amanda Macdonald, VTC spokesperson and Chair of Walk On, Victoria, “However, there is a lot more work to do to make active and sustainable transportation accessible to everyone and it is important to know where candidates stand on these issues.”

“The provincial government’s ambitious target of reducing car traffic 25% by 2030 should be on every candidate’s radar,” said Tom Hackney of the BC Sustainable Energy Association. “Do they support making the big changes needed to help meet this target, or not?”

The full questionnaire is available at www.transportchoicevictoria.ca and candidates answers will be publicly available before the election. All candidates are invited to fill out the survey. VTC will not be endorsing any candidates. 

“We want to know if candidates are ready to welcome wheelchair and mobility scooter users on bike and roll routes, and if they will help meet the provincial government’s ambitious target of reducing traffic 25% by 2030,” said Eric Doherty of the Better Transit Alliance. “Bus lanes are important, but so are accessible bathrooms.”

Media Contacts: 

Amanda Macdonald

Chair, Walk On, Victoria

walkonvictoria@gmail.com

778-587-0246

Eric Doherty

Better Transit Alliance of Greater Victoria 

eric@ecoplanning.ca 250 818 8223

Tom Hackney

BC Sustainable Energy Association

tom.hackney@bcsea.org 250 381 4463

Barriers to Safe and Accessible Walking on Oak Bay Avenue

During the first weeks in August, Tom and Jean Newton, two members of Walk On, Victoria, led public walks and conducted interviews with people walking along both sides of  Oak Bay Avenue between Foul Bay Road and just past Monterey.


The purpose of the walks and interviews was to gather information from participants about the most challenging sidewalk, curb and crosswalk barriers they experience while walking on Oak Bay Avenue. The majority of people who participated were older adults with mobility or vision challenges, though young parents pushing strollers and people of all ages walking their dogs were also interviewed.

The data Tom and Jean gathered was submitted in a report to Oak Bay Council, Oak Bay communication, planning and engineering staff, and the consultants Oak Bay hired in preparation for the Pedestrian and Sidewalk Master Plan the municipality intends to draft later this year. In this blog post, we’re sharing the report the Newtons provided to Oak Bay.

A copy of the report can be found here:

If others of you have led public walks or advocated with your municipal councils for better pedestrian infrastructure, we’d like to hear from you. Please email an account of your experiences to walkonvictoria@gmail.com

Jane’s Walks 2022

Walk On, Victoria will be hosting (with collaborators) two in person walks as part of the Jane’s Walk festival.  Jane’s Walks are held annually on the first weekend in May to honour the memory of Jane Jacobs (May 4, 1916-April 25, 2006). Jacobs was a political activist whose work in NYC and Toronto is credited with championing diverse, walkable neighbourhoods where well being of people is prioritized.

Parks and Gardens in Pedestrian-Friendly James Bay

Saturday, May 7, 10am

Meet @ the promenade at the corner of Dallas Rd and Montreal Street

Hosted with the City of Victoria

Route and stops:

  1. Dallas Road and Dock Street

  2. Montreal Community Garden

  3. Redfern Park

  4. Superior Street at St Lawrence

  5. Back to Dallas Road

Over the years, Victoria residents and legions of visitors have strolled through Beacon Hill Park, around Clover Point and along the cliffs between Dallas Road and the ocean. But there are a number of other interesting parks, public spaces and community gardens in James Bay.

Join City of Victoria staff and Walk On, Victoria for a leisurely stroll that will take in some of these parks and gardens, note recent changes and preview some of the changes and improvements for pedestrians coming to the western tip of Victoria’s oldest neighourhood.

Accessibility: curbs and steps, sidewalks, busy or noisy vehicle traffic
Seniors welcome, Children welcome, people with bicycles welcome, people with wheelchairs or walking aids welcome
Walk Duration: Two hours including stops
Walk Leader: Britta Gunderson-Bryden

The Highs and Lows of Thetis Heights

Saturday, May 7, 1pm-2:30pm

Meet @ Serious Coffee- Millstream Village

Hosted with Walk Roll Map (walkrollmap.org)

Some say that over the past three decades, Langford has rolled out the red carpet to attract businesses, including big box store Costco, which is all many Victorians know the community for. As the fastest growing city in Canada, critics say Langford has spread too fast, too far, often without thought to environmental sustainability. They allege that plants, trees,animals, and all features of the natural environment  have been destroyed with the expansion of new neighbourhoods where much needed, (relatively) affordable housing has been built. But while Langford development has sometimes proceeded full-speed ahead, that’s not the whole picture.  For many longtime residents and newcomers alike, Langford is much more than a bedroom community or a shopping destination reached at the end of a traffic jam. It’s home, a place they want to stay and build a diverse, sustainable community.

The Millstream Creek neighbourhood, located off Treanor Avenue between Bellamy Road and Selwyn Road, is the site of a Langford neighbourhood bordered by a creek and forest, where neighbours act as stewards of the trees and animal life they love. Some residents in this area believe Langford is at a tipping point, ready to take time to carefully plan the next stages of community growth. The new Langford Heights development, proposed at the site of the former Western Speedway, is one example where a new built environment could potentially be constructed to include opportunities for walking, cycling, recreation and preservation of nature.

On Saturday, May 7th, from 1:00-2:30 pm, West Shore residents are invited to attend a free, family oriented walk along Millstream Creek to share stories about the area and talk about the community they live in. To participate on the walk, meet at Serious Coffee in Millstream Village at 1:00 p.m. The walk will be slow-paced, accessible for people of all ages, and dogs on leashes are welcome.

The walk will occur, rain or shine. Come meet your neighbours, share your memories about the area, and discuss your hopes for the future of your home.

Introducing WalkRollMap.org

Happy Walktober! Going for a walk might be one of the easiest activities that you can do, yet it may not always feel safe and comfortable. Sidewalks might be crumbling, narrow, or nonexistent. The safe way across a busy street might result in a frustrating 500m detour. Or perhaps you’ve experienced a scary near miss with a vehicle or have recently tripped and fallen. These experiences all factor into our decision to walk and may become barriers to accessing our communities as we’d like.

A new crowdsourced website is hoping to change that. WalkRollMap.org has recently been developed by researchers at the University of Victoria, Simon Fraser University, and Memorial University with funding from the Public Health Agency of Canada. Crowdsourcing offers a way to fill in the data gaps left by traditional sources such as police reports or ICBC claims. Building upon their experience with BikeMaps.org, the team has created WalkRollMap.org to gather reports of barriers to safe, comfortable walking or rolling on the region’s sidewalks and pathways. Website users can map three different types of reports: 1) Hazards or Concerns; 2) Missing Amenity; or 3) an Incident (collision, fall, or near miss). While the map platform is global, the project is focusing promotion initially on the Capital Region. After a participant drops a location pin on the map, they are asked a series of questions about their report.

Participation is anonymous, but demographic details such as year of birth, gender, and ethnicity are collected to better understand who the project has reached. People may experience the safety and comfort of their environment differently based on gender, race, or age. As well, different barriers may exist for people with a disability and this information is also collected. Data collected by WalkRollMap.org will be shared with Walk On, Victoria and the region’s municipalities to help improve the pedestrian environment. Have something to report? Simply go to WalkRollMap.org through your browser on any device.

Why Walkable Communities Must Include Green Space

As the population in the CRD increases, every mayor in a municipality with a commercial centre talks about housing densification to help create a community where residents can live, work and shop without commuting. Green space, essential for health and quality of life, frequently gets squeezed out of the planning.
Look at downtown Victoria. One high-rise after another has gone up, replacing increased suburban sprawl with vertical sprawl. What was once known as the city of gardens is turning into a city of canyons where, on some streets, sunlight seldom reaches the ground. Unless you consider green space to be a shrub in a pot on the sidewalk in front of a condominium complex, you will need to walk to the playground by the Court House, or to Beacon Hill Park, if you want to find a spot to sit down on a bench  without having to buy a cup of coffee for the privilege. While shopping, coffee shops, restaurants, banks and the Royal and  McPherson Theatres are close by, nature is not. Where’s the green space?
A growing amount of research indicates that people who have regular contact with nature are happier, mentally and physically healthier, and more likely to value environmental sustainability. Densification of housing needs to be planned in an environment that includes access to nature. A truly walkable urban community includes a number of small parks with benches, trees, and a children’s playground. Urban green space provides a necessary place where people  find solace in the city.  While residential “Walk Scores” posted by realtors focus on access to commercial and service amenities, walkable neighbourhoods must include space where birds and insects can thrive and people of all ages can experience nature within five to ten minutes walking distance from their homes.


Redfern Park is an example of a neighbourhood park in a Victoria neighbourhood. It includes picnic tables, a children’s playground, a little free library, a small dog park and many beautiful, mature trees. Bigger than a pocket park, Redfern Park is located between Boucher and Leighton streets on Redfern.

Interestingly, older residential neighbourhoods, including parts of Fairfield, James Bay, the Hillside/Finlayson area, parts of Oak Bay, Saanich and Esquimalt include neighbourhood parks that encompass a good size piece of property where, by today’s standards, numerous single family homes (or a sizeable apartment/condo complex) could be constructed. It’s the developers of more recently constructed housing complexes, and the municipal Councils who approve their developments, who have deemed park space too expensive, an extravagance that their communities can’t afford. The exception is affluent suburbs, where, even though residents own single family homes on sizeable pieces of  property, additional space has been set aside for parks. An example is the lovely Emily Carr Park in the Broadmead area of Saanich.

Agamemnon and Elena Kasapi Park is located at the corner of Leighton and Bank Street in Victoria. This pocket park, set in a Garry Oak Meadow, has several benches and bark pathways through the park. The wayfinding sign at the corner of Bank Street and Leighton indicates the direction to Royal Jubilee Hospital, Oak Bay Village and other neighbourhood amenities.

And what is the true cost of deleting nature from our urban core? Desirable neighbourhoods, the places where people wish they could live, cities designated as beautiful, are never bereft of nature. No one should need to be affluent in order to have green space in their environment. A good example of a popular urban park in Saanich is Rutledge Park, located in the Cloverdale area where numerous people live in apartments and condos surrounding the park. Another example is the very well used Kings Park near the Royal Jubilee Hospital, where former hydro land will hopefully be saved in entirety to preserve the only neighbourhood park in that part of the city.
Downtown Victoria could use a park on the Capital Iron side of town and another on the site of a car dealership closer to the centre of town when the land is available. It’s not too late for Victoria, and other urban municipalities, to set land aside and build new parks as a priority in their plans for urban densification. Our urban communities need to be built with beauty and nature top of mind. For today and for the future, people have a right to access nature.

Welcome to Walktober 2021!

By: Arielle Guetta, Walk On, Victoria Steering Committee Member

Walktober is a month-long celebration of all things walking and encourages people to keep their steps up even in the rain and wind. October is also International Walk to School Month – an opportunity for families and kids to walk to school and to bring attention to needed safe routes to school.

As a pedestrian advocacy organization, we are all about Walktober. It’s a lovely time of year to get out and enjoy the fall colours, but also a time when we need to be thinking more about pedestrian safety as it gets darker earlier and roads are wetter.

One important way for pedestrians to stay safe in the coming months is to be seen.  It is much easier for drivers and cyclists to see pedestrians who sport brighter gear.  How about a colourful umbrella or a light-coloured jacket?  Reflector strips that fit around the upper arm are easy to drop into a pocket when not in use.  Small, flashing lights can be attached to a backpack, purse or book bag. Don’t forget Fido;  a blinking light on a collar or harness helps keep our walking companions safe, too.  Another safety tip is to carry a small flashlight to show the way when sidewalks in poor condition create tripping hazards, where street lights are few and far between or where sidewalks still don’t exist.

While I love walking, after 1.5yrs of a pandemic and having a baby, it can be challenging to motivate myself to get out the door sometimes. If you are looking for some new ideas to invigorate your walks in October, here are some suggestions:

 For individuals

  • A walking challenge: Try something like ‘World Walking’ to virtually walk around the world or participate in a month (or longer) walking challenge like this 31 day walking workout.
  • Get competitive: Join in a step counting challenge and compete for prizes through ParticipACTION’s Great Big Move from Oct. 1- 31.
  • Find a new walk: Use an app like Footpath or AllTrails to map and find new walks near you, or check out your municipal or regional district webpage to see if there are any guided walks in your area – one of our favourites is the Signs of Lekwungen Tour.
  • Make it interactive: Download one of the many apps that can turn your walk into a game – Seek allows you to identify plants & critters on your walk and win badges the more you find; Geocaching turns your walk into a treasure hunt; and Pokemon Go unlocks a virtual world wherever you are.

For families

In addition to the suggestions above, here are some fun things you can do with your kids to get them out in all weather.

  • A scavenger hunt: Make a list of what you might find on a Fall walk, or download an already made one like this one from CBC Parents, and get your child to mark off things as they find them. You can also collect the items for a fun art project when you get home.
  • A rainy day walk: Put on head to toe raingear and go looking for puddles. Stomping around in them is always a hit, but you can also look for sticks or leaves to turn into ‘boats’ in the puddle (my toddler loves this).
  • Use old technology: give your kids a basic pedometer and create a daily step challenge, or create a map and teach your kids how to use a compass to lead the way.

Whatever you choose to do this month – we hope you enjoy Walktober!

 

Join us for a Walktober stroll on Dallas Road on Oct. 23

Dallas Road & Clover Point Walk

Saturday, October 23, 2021

10:30-11:30 AM

Meet at the picnic benches at Clover Point

 

Come celebrate Walktober with a walk along Clover Point and Dallas Road! Join us to check out the new pedestrian infrastructure and pathways in this area, including:

  • Increased pedestrian access and new seating and tables at Clover Point
  • New separated off-street pathway along Dallas Rd.
  • Crosswalks and access to Beacon Hill Park
  • Safety tips for using multi-use trails and pathways

City of Victoria staff will join us for this walk to go over how these improvements came to be,  and future planned active transportation projects.

Free coffee and donuts will be provided!

All ages and abilities welcome!

Rain or shine! We’ll even have a few umbrellas to give out as prizes.

Note: we will follow all covid-19 guidance from the Provincial Health Officer at the time of the walk and will provide an update of what this will entail closer to the date.

See Facebook for event details and updates:

Brought to you by:

Walk On, Victoria recognizes the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

September 30, 2021 marks the first National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, a day to honour the lost children and Survivors of residential schools, their families, and communities. Walk On, Victoria joins others across the country in taking the opportunity to learn and reflect on how the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Calls to Action can be acted on in their own lives.

When you go for your next walk, we encourage you to think about the Indigenous peoples whose traditional territories you are on.  You can use interactive maps like Native Land  and First Peoples’ Map of B.C. to find this information.  After situating yourself, do your research to learn about those Indigenous peoples (there is a wealth of information on the internet), their culture, language, traditions, and political structures.

You may want to do a territorial acknowledgement the next time you go for a walk, whether it is out loud to your walking buddies or as a silent reflection. As you walk, consider how Indigenous peoples might have used this area prior to colonization.

Signs of lək̓ʷəŋən. Carving theme: Four Directions of the Eagle. Lower Causeway of the Inner Harbour.

One walk we suggest is around the Inner Harbour area of Victoria, which is the traditional territory of the lək̓ʷəŋən People, known today as the Esquimalt and Songhees Nations. Around this area, you will find the Signs of lək̓ʷəŋən, which consists of seven unique site markers that designate culturally significant sites to the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations. Created in 2008, these markers are bronze castings of original cedar carvings that were conceptualized and carved by Coast Salish artist and master carver, Butch Dick with his son Clarence Dick Jr. The location and description of these markers can be found here:

https://www.songheesnation.ca/community/l-k-ng-n-traditional-territory

https://www.victoria.ca/assets/Departments/Parks~Rec~Culture/Culture/Public~Art/arts-lekwungen-brochure.pdf

The First Peoples’ Map of B.C. also has a section for arts and heritage, including points of interests and Indigenous art with their locations shown on a map. This may be a useful tool to plan your own walk, in honour of the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation.

Rock Bay Mural by Darlene Gait and Butch Dick

Mental Health Supports

Former Residential School students can call 1-866-925-4419 for emotional crisis referral services and information on other health supports from the Government of Canada.

Indigenous peoples across Canada can also go to The Hope for Wellness Help Line 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for counselling and crisis intervention.

Call the toll-free Help Line at 1-855-242-3310 or connect to the online chat.

Walktober Wanderings #5

In spite of a forecast for a wet and grey Walktober Friday, Saturday turned out to be sunny – just perfect for wandering through some of the parks and along several of the scenic trails in Saanich.  By starting and finishing at Copley Park, it is easy to plot a long, oval route that goes through, past or along Panama Hill Park and Panama Flats, Hyacinth Park, the Colquitz River Trail, the back of the Canadian Forestry Research Centre, the Galloping Goose Trail, Swan Creek Park and Brydon Park.
Saanich has added some new marked pedestrian crossings, wider concrete sidewalks and blacktopped trail entry points in this area, all of which make walking here a safer and more enjoyable experience.
This particular Saturday saw lots of people out walking and cycling.   Families were using many of the small park playgrounds.  Friends sat on benches to chat.  And lots of well-behaved, leashed dogs were out walking their humans.
The wide gravel path through Panama Flats is perfect for physical distancing and still allows lots of room for cyclists to pass.
The Colquitz River Trail can be accessed from multiple points in Saanich.  Features include well-groomed paths, many footbridges, lush riverine vegetation and a signed salmon habitat restoration project.
Notes and photos by Britta Gundersen-Bryden

Walktober Wanderings #4: Fogtober

There is more than one name for this, the tenth month of the year.  Of course, “Walktober” suits this span of 31 days very well but it is also a month when “Fogtober” is also appropriate.  And when the fog rolls in, what better place to walk than the Ogden Point breakwater?

Actually, the breakwater is a perfect place to walk any time of the year – and in any weather.  And now that the Dallas Road multi-use path is (almost) finished, more people will be able to access this prime walking spot.  The new crosswalks, signage and accessible parking spaces send two clear messages: “all are welcome”  and “let’s share this wonderful renewed place.”
Notes and photos by Britta Gundersen-Bryden