FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 22, 2013
The Ecology Action Centre welcomes today’s release of the long-awaited provincial sustainable transportation strategy. The strategy, originally promised for 2010, sets out a plan for improving and expanding on active transportation, public and community transit, urban and rural planning and vehicle and fleet efficiency in the province.
“More and more Nova Scotians are looking to reduce their reliance on the private automobile for financial, health, environmental or other reasons,” says Janet Barlow, the Ecology Action Centre’s Active Transportation Coordinator. “This strategy, if thoughtfully implemented and adequately funded, can increase the transportation options for rural and urban Nova Scotians.”
The Government has currently allocated two million dollars a year for three years for implementation of the strategy. This is an increase over current funding but still small compared with the money spent on the infrastructure for private automobiles.
“The strategy is drastically underfunded,” Barlow says. “There needs to be a reprioritization of where our tax dollars are spent. It’s been proven time and again in other areas of the world that sustainable transportation contributes to a vibrant economy. We need to do better and communities will suffer if we don’t.”
Choose How You Move: Sustainable Transportation Strategy challenges the idea that the car is king and says we need to move away from designing our communities around the car and design them for people instead.
The strategy is strong in active transportation (walking and cycling) because it commits to an active transportation policy and plan and it supports the Blue Route, a network of bikeways throughout the province. It promises to develop a Statement of Provincial Interest on healthy communities and sustainable transportation, a much needed policy move. It also pledges more support for public and community transit, something that could help to significantly improve sustainable transportation options for a great many Nova Scotians particularly in rural areas with aging populations.
Along with funding, the strategy needs to be strengthened in other areas. It doesn’t appear to connect the separate transportation networks. They can’t be planned in isolation because they don’t work in isolation. There is no mention of greenbelting which is a recognized tool in containing urban sprawl. It is sprawl that has caused our current, inefficient transportation system to be so dependent on the single occupant vehicle. Incentives are needed for municipalities to do good planning, as well as provincial legislation to curb sprawl.
The Sustainable Transportation Strategy, along with Thrive! A plan for a healthier Nova Scotia and the new Innovative Transportation Act, are a good start. Together they create the conditions to improve sustainable transportation options all across the province.
“We’ve only just begun and there’s a lot of work to do,” says Barlow. “The Ecology Action Centre looks forward to being full partners with the province and others in implementing the strategy and moving sustainable transportation forward.”
For more information, contact:
Janet Barlow, Active Transportation Coordinator, Ecology Action Centre (902) 442-5055 (office), (902) 717-4408 (cell)