On Friday, March 1, the Province of BC’s Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure will launch the public engagement portion of their 10-month active transportation strategy, in what could be considered a stealth effort to catch up to years of progress made by municipalities across the south coast.
Public feedback will help identify and prioritize new investments in safe and convenient active transportation infrastructure, education, incentive programs and safety improvements — for modes like walking, cycling, scootering, and skateboarding — for people of all ages and abilities, in communities across the province.
This week, however, as the Ministry encourages stakeholder groups via a widely circulated email to “bring ideas about ways governments can work together to build new infrastructure or better support existing network connections in your community,” news of the strategy and the overall development process is absent from the Ministry’s website.
Active transportation is not a topic on the Ministry’s website index. A search for the phrase ‘active transportation strategy’, or variations thereof, yield no meaningful results on the site. The Province doesn’t even rank in Google search results for similar terms, casting doubt on their leadership in this regard.
Based on the Ministry’s multi-decade legacy of active transportation neglect — many British Columbians above a certain age still call it the ‘Ministry of Highways’, and for good reason — this information vacuum isn’t a shocker.
But if the INSTPP process initiated last year by the Province is any indication, there’s hope for new policies, updated strategies, and reprioritization of dollars. And almost halfway through the coalition government’s mandate, a new focus on active transportation, however poorly communicated, can only be a good thing.
It is expected the Ministry’s office will release and promote a website for gathering public feedback by Friday.
Stakeholders, such as community and advocacy groups, have been invited to in-person consultations with the province that begin this Friday in Surrey, and continue over the following two weeks in Vancouver, Penticton, Courtenay, Nelson, Terrace, Prince George and Victoria.
What questions will be asked of stakeholders at these regional forums? In their email, the Ministry has shared the following prep questions:
- How important is active transportation in your community today?
- What are the barriers to active transportation?
- What opportunities do you see to increase active transportation?
- How can the province, communities, community organizations and individuals work together to advance active transportation throughout the province?
Are you a leader within an organization focused on health, transportation, physical activity and community, and have not yet been invited to register for a forum? Email the Ministry’s active transportation strategy team at ActiveTransportation@gov.bc.ca.