Sidewalks, Bicycle Lanes, and Golf Carts.

Since I was a kid, I have always been fascinated with cities and transportation. My childhood interest which began building cities with Nintendo and Lego, eventually matured into studying Politics at the University of Winnipeg. I follow urban design and engineering sites and read on the subject to stay up to date. It’s this passion and experience that excites me as part of my work as a Councillor.

Neighbourhoods are for people, and people move around! The built environments of neighbourhoods should be designed to support a human scale of transportation. I believe in the concept of the 15 minute neighbourhood. This urban design concept is simple; people should be able to reach most of their needs within a 15 minute walk or bike ride of their home. There are many reasons to invest in building a more walkable town; wealth, health, equity, climate action, and community connection.

In my time in Council I have advocated, and will continue to advocate, for investment into our sidewalks, biking facilities (such as stands and racks), paths, and trails. Improving walkability costs money, however there is clear evidence that this is an investment that pays off. Walkability improves property values; more walkable neighbourhoods sell for a premium compared to the least walkable neighbourhoods. Walkability attracts talent as educated millennials value this and are moving to more walkable places. According to a study “Attracting College Educated Young Adults to Cities”, 64% of them choose first where they want to live, before looking for work. In the post covid work-from-home landscape, this is sage advice. In order to grow our town and attract young talent and families, we should invest in providing the walkable lifestyle that they desire, and Pinawa is the perfect place to do it.

There are great health reasons to invest in active transportation as well. At a time in North America where society faces many problems related to obesity and lack of exercise, and there is a direct correlation to walkability scores and likelihood of residents to be overweight. Imagine how many calories are burned on the Ironwood Trail each year! I believe that trails and paths like the Ironwood must be considered part of our town infrastructure, and be accorded the resources necessary to maintain them for the people to use, year round. I will advocate for our snow clearing policy to include provisions for clearing sidewalks and packing and grading of the Ironwood. Last Summer Pinawa was named the Most Active Community in Manitoba by Participation. By encouraging a built urban environment that supports walking and active transportation, we can improve community health for the people of Pinawa, and retain the crown of the most Active Community in Manitoba year after year!

Photo by Zen Chung on Pexels.com

During my first term on Council, I was approached by a citizen named Gary who had been lobbying the town and provincial government for golf carts to be allowed on town streets. I was immediately supportive. I thought of the possibilities, particularly the idea of using a 10 or 12 person cart as a shuttle to move people between busy attraction areas as a way to help manage visitor traffic and parking issues. On February 8th, 2022 The Honourable Wayne Ewasko met with Council where I used the opportunity to lobby for the project. In Summer 2022 we saw the Province pass Bill 21 – The Highway Traffic Amendment and Manitoba Public Insurance Corporation Amendment Act which opens the door for these type of vehicles. I support Pinawa being the pilot project community in Manitoba, as I believe that the direct and spin off benefits for safety, job creation, accessibility, and climate impact from tiny vehicles will be tremendous for our community. Not to mention the undeniable coolness factor! 

I believe in an age-friendly community; the 15 minute Pinawa will help elderly Pinawanians maintain their independence for longer. When my grandmother became too old to safely drive her car anymore, she suffered an immense loss to her independence. When seniors are able to satisfy most of their daily needs on foot, or using a mobility device like a scooter or cart, they will be able to remain self sufficient for many years after they no longer use an automobile. On November 22, 2022 members of Council met with Minister Ewasko and the Honourable Scott Johnston, Minister for Seniors and Long Term Care to talk about a Personal Care Home. We agree that it is best for seniors to be able to age in place, however, I explained to the Ministers that people do not wish to age stuck inside of a house. People age in their community, and they must be able get around safely to interact with their neighbourhood!

As a parent, I can attest that safe streets and schools is top of mind when choosing a place to live. Safe streets also give children independence. Most parents would like their children to be able to get around before they are 16, a safe walkable community can give children years of increased self-sufficiency. I advocate for the LGD to recognize the “monkey trails” as urban paths that can be used as safe and pleasant ways for people to get around town. For too long, the government has overlooked the potential of these unique Pinawa assets. We could improve them with crosswalks at intersections with roads and improving the proposed Wayfinding Signage Project to include navigation aids to help kids get to places like the school, playground, and library.

Around Pinawa you will often see me walking and biking around to get from here to there. It keeps me fit and helps to decompress just being outside. One of the best things about the most walkable places is the sense of community that it brings. You meet people and see things that you would otherwise miss when driving. Combining walkable, active, human scale transportation planning in combination addressing the missing middle housing issues we will be able to build a community that is healthier, sustainable, and more prosperous.

Published by Michael G. King

A passionate lifelong learner, Michael loves finding elegant ways to blend science, art, and nature.

6 thoughts on “Sidewalks, Bicycle Lanes, and Golf Carts.

  1. Good write up Michael, would be great if more towns could do what Pinawa has done. You have a unique area there that works well with an active lifestyle. Here in Dugald we have made pathways where we can and they are used all the time, blacktopped our rink so it can be used in the summer and keep our sports fields and playgrounds up to date. As we grow as a town it’s harder to keep that community feeling unless you work hard at it so keep up the good work it’ll be worth it.

    Aunt Sandie

    Like

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