Farber, Habib, Saxe on Canada’s first active transportation fund

head shots of Professors Steven Farber, Khandker Nurul Habib and Shoshanna Saxe

(L-R) UTTRI associated faculty Professors Steven Farber, Khandker Nurul Habib, and Shoshanna Saxe comment on Canada’s first active transportation fund

The Government of Canada has announced $400 million for Canada’s first active transportation fund, and the development of Canada’s first National Active Transportation Strategy.

UTTRI associated faculty Professors Steven Farber, Khandker Nurul Habib and Shoshanna Saxe comment on Canada’s first active transportation fund in “‘Game changer’ active transportation fund needs to address pre- and post-COVID gaps: MPs, stakeholders,” The Hill Times, March 31, 2021.

The federal government has committed the funds over five years to help build new and expanded networks of pathways, bike lanes, trails and pedestrian bridges across the country. The announcement was made by the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, and Parliamentary Secretary Andy Fillmore on March 12, 2021.

The active transportation funds are part of the federal commitment, announced in February, of $14.9 billion for public transit projects over the next eight years.

Professor Steven Farber of the Department of Human Geography leads the Suburban Mobilities Cluster at UTSC. He notes that suburban residents “weren’t using cycling or walking paths during the lockdown” because they lack safe active travel alternatives. Farber would like to see the funding distributed across many smaller projects rather than a few larger ones, so that more people – and not just those close to urban cores – will have the choice of safe active transportation.

“I think there’s going to be some discussion of how to evaluate the relative benefits of an investment in an expensive piece of cycling infrastructure versus spending that benefit more widely,” he [Farber] said. He added that he thinks the current focus should be on a larger area of space that impacts a larger number of people.

Khandker Nurul Habib, Percy Edward Hart Professor in Civil and Mineral Engineering, says that:

“… the funding given should build on existing networks in a co-ordinated way that facilitates more transit usage overall.”

Shoshanna Saxe, Professor of Civil Engineering and Canada Research Chair in Sustainable Infrastructure, points out that the benefits of this funding “depend on the execution and which projects are funded” and adds:

“It’s [Transportation infrastructure is] the foundation of our civil society. It determines where we go, what opportunities we have, and who we engage with.” – Professor Shoshanna Saxe

Read “‘Game changer’ active transportation fund needs to address pre- and post-COVID gaps: MPs, stakeholders,” The Hill Times, March 31, 2021 [paywall]


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