Community plans should include safe walking environment for school children

Editor: I, along with many others in my community, are concerned about a highway accessible commercial truck route on 216 Street north with the proposed 216 Street/Highway 1 interchange.

We have many concerns, and one of them is the impact on the walkability of the surrounding residential areas.

Indeed, a recent noise impact study indicates that 1,400 trucks per day are estimated to be using 216 Street to the north of the highway.

Truck traffic through residential neighbourhoods increases exposure of residents to pollutants, noise and safety hazards.

I am especially concerned about schoolchildren in the area, walking to Topham Elementary school, which is situated directly along 216 Street.

What will happen to the safety and health of these children when there are 1,400 trucks on the road?

The immediate safety hazard of high commercial traffic volumes to children as they walk to school is obvious. The exposure of children to pollutants from commercial traffic is another obvious hazard.

Not as obvious, but equally important, is that research shows that active commuting to school (walking, biking or scootering), means that schoolchildren get exercise built into their day, and are therefore healthier.

Active commuting reduces obesity rates, pollution, and carbon footprints.

Community planners, together with the school district, need to plan, manage and maintain the built environment so that the environment encourages active commuting to school.

This certainly means community-based transportation planning, limiting speeds in school areas, and keeping non-local commercial traffic to non-school areas, so that the walkability of the journey to school is safeguarded.

Let’s work together to keep our residential neighbourhoods safe, walkable and livable.

Chad Costello,