What is “Moving Forward”?
Saanich residents move around the community in many different ways – walking, biking, skateboarding, riding the bus, driving, carpooling – the list goes on. At Saanich we are committed to improving walking, biking and other active mobility options by Moving Saanich Forward: that’s what we’re calling our Active Transportation Plan.
Through the Moving Saanich Forward project, we have worked with the community to develop a vision along with policies and actions to guide the development of safe, attractive and convenient active transportation options for people of all ages and abilities over the next 30-years.
What is ‘active transportation’ anyway?
Active Transportation is basically any form of human‐powered transportation.
Walking and cycling are the most popular and well known forms of active transportation. However, the definition extends much further than that – as long as it is ‘active’, you choose the mode – skateboarding, wheeling, pushing a stroller, in-line skating, using a mobility aid, etc. Active Transportation is any active trip you make to get yourself, or others, from one place to another ‐ whether it’s to work, school, the store or to visit with friends.
Why does Saanich need an Active Transportation Plan?
The District of Saanich is committed to sustainability and recognizes the important role active transportation plays in enhancing community livability. In 2008, we adopted our current Official Community Plan (OCP) to guide future growth and change. The OCP includes a vision that “Saanich is a sustainable community where a healthy natural environment is recognized as paramount for ensuring social well-being and economic vibrancy, for current and future generations.”
The vision goes further, stating that a variety of travel modes connect neighbourhoods and businesses, allowing for the effective, efficient, and safe movement of people, goods, and services; and that walking, cycling, and transit are viable and popular travel options, resulting in less car dependence.
One of the key initiatives within the 2015-2018 Strategic Plan is to ‘develop an Active Transportation Master Plan to serve as a long-term strategic vision for the District that will help guide active transportation decisions and public investments for the years ahead’. The Moving Saanich Forward project will allow us to cross this important initiative off the list and move towards implementing the ideas generated through the process.
Saanich residents have also told us that active transportation should be a priority for the District. Our 2015 Citizen Satisfaction Survey found that improving lighting and maintenance of streets and sidewalks was the top priority based on level of importance. Making it easier to walk from one destination to another was also a high priority. In addition, the survey found 77% of citizens are very or somewhat satisfied by the ease of travelling by bicycle in the District.
What are the benefits of ‘active transportation’?
There are many benefits that come with using active modes of transportation. Those who choose to move actively for their day-to-day transportation maintain a healthier lifestyle through increased physical activity and spend less on transportation costs. This allows residents and visitors to invest more in local businesses and improves the economy. Having more active transportation options also increases mobility for non-drivers, such as seniors, youth and low income residents.
The benefits of active transportation also extend to other road users and more generally, the broader community. For example, active transportation helps to:
- create more livable communities
- reduce vehicle-related air pollution
- reduce traffic congestion for all road users