Ontario Becomes First “Complete Streets” Province

Churchill Ave in Ottawa – an award winning complete streets project

The updated Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe was released on May 18, 2017 and comes into effect July 1, 2017. (View or download here.) Significant new policy statements embedded in the update require that all road projects for new and renovated facilities will follow complete streets guidelines, and that active transportation is prioritized over private automobiles.

Of specific note:

  • Section “In the design, refurbishment or reconstruction of the existing and planned street network, a complete streets approach will be adopted that ensures the needs and safety of all road users are considered and appropriately accommodated.”
  • Section : “increase the modal share of alternatives to the automobile, which may include setting modal share targets”
  • Section “prioritize active transportation, transit and goods movement over single-occupant automobiles”
  • Section “expand infrastructure to support active transportation”
  • Section “Municipalities will ensure that active transportation networks are comprehensive and integrated into transportation planning to provide:
    a) safe, comfortable travel for pedestrians, bicyclists and other users of active transportation; and
    b) continuous linkages between strategic growth areas, adjacent neighbourhoods, major trip generators, and transit stations, including dedicated lane space for bicyclists on the major street network, or other safe and convenient alternatives.”

This goes well beyond the Provincial Policy Statement of 2014 which simply requires Section 1.8.1 (b): “promote the use of active transportation and transit in and between residential, employment (including commercial and industrial) and institutional uses and other areas.”

The updated Growth Plan, with its prescription for complete streets and active transportation, embodies principles and practices from many municipalities with recently revised transportation plans. Specifically, current transportation plans most often declare that roads are for “moving people and goods” and explicitly prioritize pedestrians, cyclists and transit over private automobiles. On–street parking provisions receive little attention and are most often explicitly de-prioritized.

Ontario becomes the first province in Canada to clearly prioritize complete streets and active transportation above the desires of private automobile operators.

The Greater Golden Horseshoe is home to 2/3 of Ontarians. When Ottawa is included, where complete streets projects are now a matter of course, 84% of Ontarians now live in a municipal area where complete streets are quickly becoming the norm.

This would seem to clearly put the writing on the wall that all of Ontario will be covered by similar complete streets and active transportation policies before very long. If communities like Brockville aim to be economically competitive they need to sit up and take notice.

Author: Alan Medcalf

Alan is a post-corporate, volunteer, community builder living in Brockville, Ontario. He seeks to create sustainable lifestyle advantage for the community by creating opportunities for more people to choose to walk and to ride bikes. He promotes the health, social, environmental and economic benefits of active mobility.