CALGARY – At City Council Wednesday, Councillors unanimously passed a motion to Prioritize Schools in the 5A (Always Available for All Ages and Abilities) Network. Thank you to councillors Diane Colley-Urquhart and Jeff Davison for listening and championing this work.
This motion is a direct result of the work Youth en Route did at Dr. E.P. Scarlett High School in Ward 13 last year. We identified many shortcomings in pathway and active transportation routes around the school. We took Councillor Colley-Urquhart on a tour in July, and her motion was the result of our advocacy.
“This is really great for our organization, and for areas of the city that have been left out of the 5A Network upgrades to this point,” said Shiv Ruparell, Board Chair of Youth en Route, a non-profit that incorporated in May. “Young people will have a voice at the table as Calgary works to expand their transportation choices.”
Youth en Route has surveyed high school students. We know that 30 per cent of students would consider using active transportation to get to school if it was a bit easier. Many schools lack secure storage. Students either don’t know a safe route, or the only safe route isn’t direct or convenient. Many high school students travel less than 5 km to school, but most (over 50%) arrive at school by car.
“We think that with a bit of support, youth will choose active and independent ways to get to school,” said Laura Shutiak, founder of Youth en Route. “Students want to be active and green They see the benefits for not only the environment, but their health and mental health and we are excited to have the city there to fund engineering improvements.”
The motion requires city administration to ensure that all school are served by 5A infrastructure. School size must be considered when determining potential users. City staff will report back on funding and next steps before the 2022 budget meeting.
Youth En Route is seeking funding to pursue supportive programming and improvements to facilities – including bike racks – at schools across Southern Alberta. We have started work at 10 project schools this year, including two Calgary Catholic High Schools, six Calgary Board of Education high schools and one school in both Red Deer and Lethbridge.