May 2012 Canada Walks e-News 
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Spreading the Word on Sustainable Happiness    C O'Brien


Green Communities' Canada Walks invited Cape Breton University's Dr. Catherine O'Brien to deliver workshops on Sustainable Happiness to four communities in Ontario: Thunder Bay, Arnprior for Renfrew County, City of Ottawa and the Region of Waterloo. A total of 7 workshops will have been delivered by early May. Catherine delivered her research findings for achieving positive mental fitness through healthy and sustainable choices, like choosing active and sustainable transportation for short, local trips. Feedback has been extremely positive and we will deliver a webinar later in the year to reach more communities. 


With thanks to Government of Ontario and the Canadian Partnership for Cancer's CLASP initiative for supporting these workshops. 


Dr. O'Brien offers an interactive on-line version of her sustainable happiness course. For more information visit: 


See how sustainable happiness is interpreted by school children in Nunavut: 


To learn more about Sustainable Happiness and to access teachers' resources visit 

Our Health, Our Future
Just Released: Our Health, Our Future -
A National Dialogue on Healthy Weights; Dialogue Report 


Launched in March 2011, Our Health Our Future - A National Dialogue on Healthy Weights set out to: 

        • inform Canadians of the impact of the issue; 
        • raise awareness of the factors that can contribute to childhood overweight and obesity; 
        • stimulate discussion on the issue and; 
        • encourage commitment to action to move toward healthy weights for children. 

This initiative will culminate with the National Summit, where stakeholders across the country will showcase best practices and propose concrete actions for the future. Upon completion, the key findings from this engagement process will be presented to the Federal/Provincial/Terrritorial Ministers of Health. 


Read the report in html 

Read the report in pdf format 

Air Quality Health Index 
 On February 17, Green Communities' Canada Walks hosted a webinar to present the Air Quality Health Index (AQHI), a joint project of Environment Canada and Health Canada. Dave Henderson, Senior Advisor for Health and Air Quality Services, National Services Operations Division of Meteorological Service of Canada, led the presentation. Joining Dave was Christina Daly from Health Canada's Air Quality Programs Division.
(see  to review the archived webinar AQHI: Air Quality & Active Travel)


The World Health Organization estimates 800,000 people are killed worldwide by outdoor air pollution annually from vehicles and industrial emissions; 5,900 Canadians die prematurely from air pollution each year and about one-third of these from short-term exposure (Health Canada, 2005). 


The AQHI was developed to: 

  • create a national, simplified communications tool for measured and forecast air quality to empower individuals to take action to protect their health from the adverse effects associated with the "air pollution mixture"; 
  • use "health-awareness" as a tool to promote personal action to reduce air pollution; 
  • create advocates for reducing pollution. 

One of the online tools to help Canadians assess their risks from air quality on a day-to-day basis was modelled after the successful UV Index that shows exposure risks to ultra violet rays as a result of a compromised ozone layer. 

AQHI Scale

Green Communities is incorporating information about the AQHI into our School Travel Planning tools as well as our Canada Walks web site. 


To learn more about the AQHI visit 


WALK Friendly
Update on Walk Friendly Ontario Designation Program 


As reported in our January 2012 Walkolution News, Green Communities' Canada Walks WALK Friendly Ontario is a recognition program currently under development, modeled after the very successful US program administered by the Pedestrian & Bicycle Information Centre ( WALK Friendly Ontario, supported with a grant from the Ontario Government, will encourage municipalities to create and improve spaces and places to walk by awarding bronze, silver, gold, or platinum designations. To participate, municipalities complete an assessment that measures progress on a range of factors including walking infrastructure and amenities, planning and policies, education and encouragement, engineering, enforcement, and evaluation. 


When launched in 2013, WALK Friendly Ontario will allow municipalities to measure how walk friendly they are and set targets for improvement. It will make it easy to learn from other towns and cities, whose stories will be shared through our website. The program will also encourage collaboration between municipal departments, other agencies, the private sector and non-profit groups to build powerful, synergistic relationships. Communities will be able to use the designation to help market themselves as the most desirable places to live, work, play, go to school, and do business! 


Visit the WALK Friendly Ontario website (launching May 3) and check us out on Facebook and Twitter  



Municipality of South Huron, Ontario, Latest to Sign the International Charter for Walking   


The Municipality of South Huron (MOSH) Council voted to support the International Charter for Walking ( Canada ranks second in the world among countries supporting the Charter. "Walkability" is consistently rated among the top 5 qualities people look for in a community and in a downtown. 


Last fall, Main Streets Exeter partnered with Huron County Planning to host "Walkable Exeter". With excellent input from major stakeholders a final report and action plan was published:


SurefootWalking in Winter 


A new website released in February, advises Winnipeggers of slippery street hazards. The site, updated daily, has four ratings - easy to hazardous. Pedestrians are advised to take precautions when using sidewalks and, if hazardous conditions are reported, the web site advises people not to travel on foot on the walkways. Congratulations to the City of Winnipeg for this innovative web site - a great tool for those of us who enjoy walking year-round. 


St. Alphonsus' Winter Walk Day 


This was teacher Danielle Viola's first Winter Walk Day at St. Alphonsus Catholic School in Toronto. Danielle, who is also the Eco Team leader for the school, noted "quite a few students do walk but we have lots that travel on school buses." On February 8 approximately 100 students walked to school, making a positive contribution to the environment, and they were rewarded with a cup of hot chocolate! Danielle hopes to double the number of walkers for their upcoming Spring Walk. In addition to these exciting walking events, St. Alphonsus students have accepted the 'stuff diet' in honour of Lent - do not buy anything new for 40 days and 40 nights! 


St. Marguerite d'Youville's Snow Walkers 


The theme for Winter Walk Day at Hamilton, Ontario's, St. Marguerite d'Youville Catholic School was "Snow Walkers". About 500 students and staff participated.


St Marguerite d'Youville 2

O.M. MacKillop's Physical Activity CelebrationO.M. MacKillop

Wednesday, February 8, 2012, in Richmond Hill, Ontario, was one of those bright, crisp winter days that makes being outside a wonderfully exhilarating experience. Right after morning exercises and attendance, every single student and teacher at O.M. MacKillop P.S. headed outside for a brisk walk around the school property and sports field. 


A large track had been set up by the Grade 8's, and we walked around this several times in our class units. The ground was frozen, so we didn't have to contend with mud on the boots! 


When we came back indoors, the positive feedback was instantaneous! "Do we have to go back inside...can't we do a Science Unit out here?" "We should do this every Wednesday!" "That was the best start to school...!!" Both students and staff returned to the classrooms with clearer heads and positive attitudes, ready to get to work....definitely a great start to the day! 


Patty Pylon is Back at Montgomery Village PS!

Three years ago Montgomery Village PS in Orangeville, Ontario, closed one section of their parking lot because of unsafe conditions for students and parents travelling to school on foot or wheels. Now Montgomery Village is planning to close the parking lot to parents completely between 2:30 and 3:15 pm. Driving parents will be encouraged to park and stride by leaving vehicles away from the school at a nearby arena and walking their children the rest of the way. Teacher champion Ann Fenton will assume her alternate personality as Patty Pylon to support the families that are walking and wheeling. At Montgomery Village their slogan is "ITS COOL TO WALK TO SCHOOL"! 


Patty Pylon
Wheeling to SchoolWoodstock

Woodstock's Eastdale Students are Cycling to London for the Olympics! 


As part of the Ontario's Wheeling to School pilot project, parents, teachers and students from Eastdale Public School were joined by Woodstock community stakeholders Councillor Jim Northcott , Thames Valley District School Board Superintendent Mary Ellen Smith, Woodstock Police, Oxford County Public Health, municipal transportation staff, and the Wheeling to School project coordinator Katherine Glowacz, for a cycle-about of "Bike to School Routes". 


Enjoying the sunny 20-degree weather, a rarety for March, the 15 or so participants rode, and walked, the routes as part of an overall evaluation of their appropriateness for children and families to bike to school. Several route changes were noted, including the inclusion of a neighbourhood trail connecting more members of the student population, and road surface repairs were highlighted. 


This spring Eastdale will install bicycle racks, host a visit from police and public health to learn the rules of the road and participate in a Bike Rodeo. Students will also have a chance to try out some of their bike skills with CAN-BIKE instructors in May. 


Participants were joined by local media Rogers Cable TV and the Woodstock Sentinel Review. 


Take a look at this neat video from Portland, Oregon, about how bicycles are making cities cool - includes a school "bicycle train": 


Community Resources 
to Promote and Encourage Healthy, Safe Public Spaces


The Walkable City: A Healthy Toronto by Design, Neighbourhood Design and Preferences, Travel Choices and Health, April 2012. 

This timely report from the Toronto Board of Health focuses on utilitarian walking, that is, the steps people take in their day-to-day lives. It provides evidence that City of Toronto residents who have the most to gain from living within walking distance of shops, schools, transit and services live in the least walkable areas of the city. Prepared as part of the Healthy Canada by Design project, funded by the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer's CLASP initiative. Download full report: 



New Active and Safe Routes to School Cycling Resource Manual 

Created by BC's HASTE (Hub for Action on School Transportation Emissions), with support from Transport Canada, HASTE staff worked with programmers and consultants from across Canada to develop this resource manual for schools looking to encourage and support students cycling to school. 


This manual is intended as a resource for schools, school districts, and municipalities interested in supporting and encouraging cycling trips by school community members, including students, families, and school staff. Available in both english and french: 



Bicycling and Walking in the United States 

The U.S. Alliance for Biking & Walking recently published Bicycling and Walking in the United States: 2012 Benchmarking Report. The report outlines levels of participation, safety statistics and funding applied to biking and walking infrastructure across the U.S. and it describes health and economic benefits Access the fact sheet or the full report at 




CAPTURE is a freely accessible, web-based repository that health promotion practitioners, managers and community stakeholders can use to find and share practice-based evidence. Not just limited to published literature or best practices, CAPTURE provides a platform for collecting and disseminating the full breadth of health promotion activity across Canada and beyond. Check out the active school travel interventions now available on CAPTURE.



Canada Walks Mandy Johnson noted at the recent FCM Conference 

Dr. Katherine Loflin gave a fantastic plenary presentation on her "Soul of the Community" project. It is well worth watching: 



Let Them be Kids 

Let Them Be Kids ( is an all volunteer non-profit organization who believes every child has the right to play. The organization acts as a catalyst to help build community spaces for children while acting as a catalyst to help build community capacity. Grants are available for communities. This is a great fit for communities who are working towards healthier and livable public spaces. 


Transition Towns 

As we travel across Canada giving presentations and workshops about walking and walkability, we keep bumping into individuals representing "Transition Towns" who are enthusiastically supporting our work at the local level. That is because their broader mission to "create initiatives that rebuild resilience and reduce CO2 emissions" encompasses our mission of creating a culture of walking. Transition Towns is a not-for-profit organization based in the U.K., with initiatives all over the world. There are over 50 Transition Towns in Canada at present, from coast to coast. Here are the links to the websites for three Canadian Transition Towns: 

A complete list of Canadian communities can be found here: 



Strong Towns 

Strong Towns is a not-for-profit organization based in the U.S. Their mission is to support a model for growth that allows America's towns to become financially strong and resilient. Much of their work can be easily applied to Canadian towns and their Curbside Chat companion booklet is well work a read 



Upcoming Events 


Green Communities' Canada Walks will be attending and presenting at the following events - be sure to visit our display:


*  Ontario Bike Summit, April 24/25, Toronto - see for details. 


*  Ontario Small Urban Municipalities Conference, May 2/3, Huntsville, Ontario 


*  Check out the upcoming Janes Walks, May 5/6:


*  Town & Gown Symposium, May 14, Kingston, Ontario 


*  PARC Conference, May 15, London, Ontario 


*  Healthy Communities & Planning for Active Transportation   

    Talking the Talk and Walking the Walk; September 20/21, 2012; 

    Hilton Suites, Markham Conference Centre 

    Attend the Ontario Professional Planners Institute's symposium and gain insights on active 

    transportation and learn about success stories that impact the planning of healthy     

    communities in Ontario. This key educational and networking event will highlight issues that 

    communities need to address in order to face the challenges ahead. Learn skills and      

    knowledge that you can translate into action back in your home community. On-line 

    Registration Now Available: Register before June 15th to take 

    advantage of early bird pricing! 


*  Step into the Future: The 2012 International Conference on Walking 

    and Sustainable Cities 

    Walk21 announces the joint XIII International Walking and Liveable Communities Conference 

    and VII International Congress on Sustainable Transport, September 30 - October 4, 2012 in 

    Mexico City. Conference themes for this year: 

    • Inclusion: the city of the future offers an accessible, integrated and inclusive mobility 
    • Trust: the city of the future can be enjoyed securely, with confidence and certainty 
    • Well-being: the city of the future allows its people to breathe, move freely, safely and be healthy 
    • Community: the city of the future has active citizens and is supported by a responsible government 

    Learn more: and


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