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Impact Story: Healthy Transportation Coalition makes progress towards transportation equity in Ottawa

June 27, 2018 Livable Cities, Impact Story

A pop-up project in Sandalwood Park, Ottawa in 2016 to encourage the City to pave a pedestrian pathway.

Since forming in 2014, the Healthy Transportation Coalition has made steady progress towards transportation equity in the city of Ottawa. The Coalition is working closely with residents, particularly in low-income neighbourhoods, advocates and policy makers to ensure Ottawa’s transportation system and networks meet the needs of all users.

Catch up on some of the Coalition’s achievements thus far:

Winning the EquiPass

In 2017, the City of Ottawa approved the EquiPass—a discounted monthly public transit pass for residents of Ottawa living on low incomes. In 2018, the single-ride fare EquiPass was introduced. Both the monthly and single-ride passes reduce transit costs by 50% for those who qualify. As of June 2018, the EquiPass was helping more than 5,000 people every month. The Healthy Transportation Coalition played a critical role in mobilizing community support for the EquiPass, and convincing city officials to implement the discounted prices.

Advocating for affordable housing near transit

In June 2018, the City of Ottawa created an inter-departmental working group to focus on affordable housing near rapid transit stations. The working group will help the City make affordable housing part of its transit-oriented development plans, as Light Rail Transit and Bus Rapid Transit continue to expand. The Healthy Transportation Coalition advocated for the creation of the working group. The Coalition is working closely with City Councillors Jeff Leiper and Catherine McKenney and a variety of organizations to ensure people living on low incomes can live close to rapid transit stations and that Ottawa is a leader in equitable Transit-Oriented Development. 

Encouraging multi-modal transportation

In 2018, the City of Ottawa created a $30,000 pilot project to use parking revenue to install bike racks at select bus stops around the city. The purpose of the bike racks is to encourage, and make it easier for, residents to use multiple types of transportation to reach their destination, for example coupling taking the bus and cycling. The Healthy Transportation Coalition advocated for Keith Egli, chair of the City’s Transportation Committee, to create this pilot project, and attended Budget 2018 consultations to secure the investment.

Improving infrastructure in lower-income neighbourhoods

Since 2014, the Healthy Transportation Coalition has been working with residents of six lower-income neighbourhoods to identify improvements needed to make them better places for pedestrians, cyclists and public transit riders. This has involved door-to-door outreach, sharing circles, active transportation audits, the formation of resident working groups, and pop-up projects intended to demonstrate how the neighbourhood would improve if the needed improvement were implemented. As a follow up to all these activities, we have then worked with the local city councillor to seek their support, and the support of the City, for making the improvements permanent.

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