Energy around Healthy Neighborhoods

18 Apr

Our first community conversation was a great success Sunday, with about 20 residents in attendance. Neighbours discussed their ideas about Healthy Neighbourhoods, identifying things they’re concerned about, as well as possible solutions to those concerns. Over the next three weeks, I’ll post a blog about each of the three pillars of my platform, and will launch some questions into the twittersphere (can I make up words like that?) to see what comes back. Please join the conversation!

Going forWARD on Healthy Neighbourhoods

People want to talk about bike safety! Concerns about bike safety have come up throughout the ward during my door-to-door visits. There is general agreement that a healthy city is a bikeable and walkable city. There is also recognition that managing the relationship between cyclists, pedestrians, and cars/trucks is difficult. My conversations with residents has reinforced the need to have residents, traffic engineers, and others come together to identify areas of concern within Ward 10 and move forward on addressing traffic safety priorities.

A number of suggestions have emerged – put bikes on the sidewalks, keep bikes off the sidewalks, replace some of the sidewalks with bike lanes, expand the trail system and connect it to street-based bike lanes, the list goes on. The ‘culture’ of biking has also come up. Many cyclists do not know (or do not practice) proper bike signals, which is a safety concern. Many drivers also don’t know bike signals, and therefore find it difficult to predict or understand cyclist behaviour. The issue of bikeability is clearly an area that demands a community-based planning process. There are not short-term fixes, but residents seem willing to work on this issue. I am willing to work on this issue. The fine folks at the city have, in my conversations with them to date, been very willing to talk about how to connect with residents and their ideas. I am therefore confident that together, we can go forWARD on establishing a plan for safe biking within and beyond Ward 10. What would you do? Do you want to help?

Biking has come up, and so has food (I love good biking and good food – coincidence?). Late last fall, through my teaching and research, I became connected to the Fredericton Food Bank. At least 2,500 people in our city use the services provided by the food bank each month. 36% of these people are children, who have no control over their economic situations. Many of the adults have physical or mental illnesses that restrict their ability to earn a living wage. Food security is fundamental to everyone’s health and wellbeing. We will not deal with the significant health and economic challenges facing many of our neighbours if we cannot increase everyone’s access to fresh, healthy food. Food security is not just a production issue. How food is transported, procured, and distributed also matters. Of course, this is not just a municipal issue. However, we can still play a strong role in supporting and furthering innovative food ideas.

We are headed in the right direction. The food bank is embarking on an exciting, innovative project to develop the former Green Village site into a sustainable food centre. This project, which is learning from initiatives elsewhere such as The Stop, can serve as a hub for activities that put Fresh Food First in Fredericton. Local businesses like Real Food Connections, True Food Organics, and Aura Whole Foods, local farmers, and the Boyce Farmer’s Market, are other important players in the conversation.

Some of the activities that Ward 10 residents and I have discussed include more community gardens, curbside composting, and garden-based education programs. The community gardens elsewhere in Fredericton are vibrant and healthy places. Some of our neighbours are already working on this issue (you can find them through the New Brunswick Food Security Network). We can and should build a stronger network of people, businesses, and organizations dedicated to healthy food production and access as part of our need to explore and implement ideas that put Fresh Food First. What other organizations and ideas should be part of a fresh food first strategy for Fredericton?

Join us virtually throughout the week, and in person next weekend, as our community conversation evolves – this time on Sunday, April 22nd, from 2 – 3 pm, at Odell Park Lodge.      

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2 Responses to “Energy around Healthy Neighborhoods”

  1. Mara Mallory April 18, 2012 at 12:52 pm #

    Hi Leah– Thank you for writing about your ideas, values, and vision for Fredericton. I’m grateful to have that kind of information on which to base my decisions this May. On the topics of bikes, my husband and I had the great fortune to spend a week and a half in the heart of Paris this past fall. We spent every day observing the city, walking the streets, using public transport, and marvelling at the civility and sophistication of that great city. We did not set foot in a car the entire time in France. We were struck by how well Paris incorporated bicycle traffic into their roadway system. It was wonderful to see and made us quite envious. It CAN and SHOULD be done here. Cyclists obviously must know the signals and use them. However,drivers have to slow down, be aware of cycling traffic, and respect their place on the road. Public awareness goes a long way. There are many people who would find Fredericton, as a centre of active transport, a compelling place to come live, work, invest, and raise a family. This isn’t just a tranportation and environmental issue– this is an economic issue, a sustainability issue, a recruitment issues, and a vision issue.

  2. katiemarti April 18, 2012 at 3:42 pm #

    Out here in Vancouver, many streets are designated bike streets. So, for example, in a grid pattern much like what Fredericton has in the downtown plat, every fourth street or so give priority to bike traffic as is indicated on street signs, etc. It means that motorists and cyclists can plan their routes accordingly, so as to take advantage of the prioritized bike routes or avoid them, depending on mode of transportation. Many of the designated bike streets also have speed bumps to help calm the traffic that does still exist, which tends to further deter motorists from using them. I could see Freddy getting behind this idea, although it doesn’t do a whole lot to improve the major arteries for cyclists (Regent, Hanwell, King, Queen, etc.)

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