III. Walkable urban places — Environmental benefits

Concern for the environment may be one of the earliest and most straightforward drivers for increased walking and active mobility.

From climate change to air pollution, loss of biodiversity to green infrastructure, walking provides an active means for people to mitigate and address local and global environmental concerns.1

“The recovery of sprawl to vibrant places is literally our generation’s greatest challenge.”

Steve Mouzon, Architect and New Urbanist

Robert Steuteville, editor of Public Square (a CNU Journal), has been publishing a series of articles based on the 2016 Cities Alive: Towards a walking world report, which shows the benefits of walkable cities – social, economic, environmental and political – and sets out measures for improving walkability.

This post itemizes the list from Steuteville’s article (link embedded in heading below), and includes additional details from the report.

Ten environmental benefits of walkable places

  1. Reduces greenhouse gas emissions
    Fewer cars, fewer emissions.
  2. Improves urban microclimates
    The Urban Heat Island (UHI) effect, where denser urban areas are significantly warmer than surrounding rural areas, is a major issue facing cities today. Increased urban vegetation and mature tree canopies contribute to the mitigation of the urban heat island effect by reducing the air temperature and provide pleasant strolling temperatures.
  3. Optimises land use
    Soil is not a renewable resource and is essential to nurture plants and animals. In addition, it is vulnerable to impacts from vehicular traffic, industry and construction. Walkability improvements can help reduce the amount of land required for transport facilities (roads and parking), encouraging denser land use patterns.
  4. Reduces air pollution
    When walkable environments incorporate more trees and vegetation, they will inherently clean the air: 17 trees can absorb enough CO2 annually to offest nearly 42,000 km of driving.
  5. Improves water management
    Reallocating investment from motor vehicle infrastructure into parks and pedestrian environments improves the overall health of city ecosystems and help divert millions of litres of stormwater runoff.
  6. Promotes alternative transportation
    Public transit users are pedestrians or a combination of pedestrian/cyclist. Purposeful investment in walking and active transportation networks encourages increased pedestrian and cycling activity.
  7. Makes cities more beautiful
    Streets that offer a robust, attractive experience can accommodate a variety of diverse uses such as outdoor dining, seating and gathering areas. Additionally, beautification through landscaping, public art, and wayfinding becomes an important feature.
  8. Increases active use of space
    Pedestrian improvements can provide people with more pleasant spaces to stay, and lead to an increase in the active use of public space and the facilities it contains, such as benches, playgrounds, water bubblers, public gyms and skate areas.
  9. Cuts ambient noise
    Plant leaves have been shown to tone down noise by reflecting, diverting and absorbing acoustic energy. Trees with abundant foliage are especially effective at minimizing noise levels.
  10. It makes better use of space
    Street designs that restructure the street network better serve pedestrians and cyclists, often repurposing space reclaimed from vehicle travel lanes and on-street parking to accommodate cycle and pedestrian infrastructure.

“The pedestrian is an extremely fragile species, the canary in the coal mine of urban livability.”

Smart Growth America, nationwide coalition promoting a better way to growth

1 Excerpts from Cities Alive: Towards a walking world, a report published by Arup in 2016.


More on this topic:

Sherwood Crossing: City in breach of planning and decision-making processes

Author: Doug MacArthur

On Wednesday of this week, we [signed off by Doug MacArthur] filed a request with the City that it Reconsider its August 26, 2021, decision to approve site and foundation construction permits for the proposed townhouses on Towers Road re Killam’s/APM’s Sherwood Crossing project. Also on Wednesday we filed an IRAC Appeal in the same matter.

Our filings make the case that proper process is not being followed. In our view, it is not appropriate for permits to be issued and construction to proceed on a project which has not yet even had its rezoning approved. That rezoning is presently the subject of another party’s IRAC appeal begun early in 2021.

In our view, it is not appropriate for permits to be issued and construction to proceed on a project which has not yet even had its rezoning approved.

Doug MacArthur

Additionally, the August 26 City Council permit approval meeting, both in public and in closed session, was chaired by Mayor Philip Brown, who we believe should have declared a conflict of interest, excused himself, and should have avoided any involvement in the discussions or decisions relating to the August 26 City Council approval. We believe the August 26 permit approval process was tainted.

We also have other issues with the exaggerated relevance being attached to the Sherwood Crossing development agreement between the City and the developer. We believe there have been other process violations, not to mention APM/Killam proceeding for a considerable time with construction this summer at Sherwood Crossing without a permit, and receiving no sanctions for doing so.

We believe there have been other process violations, not to mention APM/Killam proceeding for a considerable time with construction this summer at Sherwood Crossing without a permit and receiving no sanctions for doing so.

Doug MacArthur

There is a well-established and defined approval process to be followed for new Charlottetown development projects. In some cases, particularly Sherwood Crossing, that process has not been respected or followed. It needs to be followed if citizens are to have confidence in City Hall decision-making and in our municipal checks and balances. So, the purpose in our Wednesday filings is to help restore proper and proven processes to City Hall decision-making. We are not necessarily against a development at Sherwood Crossing, but we want any development to respect proper process, not engage in unacceptable tactics that do a disservice to our community.

The next steps in our filings will be for City Hall to consider our Reconsideration request while our IRAC Appeal is held in abeyance. If our Reconsideration request is rejected, then the IRAC appeal will proceed. There may also be some other related filings along the way.

This post will likely draw the ire of the usual small handful of vested interests, contrarians, and wild-west advocates, and that comes with the territory. However, we wish to express our appreciation to the thousands of Charlottetown and PEI citizens who support our posts, week in and week out. Our most recent post re potential Mayor Brown conflict of interest has been viewed by over 10,000 people, liked by almost 200 people, commented on by more than 125 people and shared by more than 80 people, for a total of almost 400 people who took the time to express their views and concerns. That is phenomenal support, it is what public participation is all about, and it is very much appreciated. It is testament to the thousands of citizens who want a future of Charlottetown in which we can have great pride and confidence.

Author: Doug MacArthur
Published Thursday, 16 September 2021, on Future of Charlottetown Facebook page

Is Mayor Brown in an ongoing conflict of interest? The public needs answers. 

Author: Doug MacArthur

Following is a summary of pertinent facts to consider re Mayor Philip Brown and his possible conflict of interest re APM et al. In addition to being mayor of Charlottetown, Mayor Philip Brown works with his family business [EB Brown Transport and Crane Services Inc and Atlantic Hy-Span Ltd] as a business accountant and public relations officer and director. His family business is a member of the Construction Association of PEI with Philip Brown listed as the EB Brown contact person.

Since becoming mayor, his family business has provided crane services to Tim Banks/APM on a number of projects, including the Blackbush Tracadie project in 2020 and APM projects in the city. When questioned on this, Tim Banks recently told CBC News “..the mayor’s crane shows up on our job sites, what are we supposed to do, wait until we can get one from the Irvings? It’s just doing business on a small island.” It should be noted that there are other PEI crane services providers besides EB Brown.

Despite his private business interests, Mayor Brown has not excused himself from City Hall development/planning/permit deliberations/decisions involving Tim Banks and/or APM and related companies. In fact, Mayor Brown has presided at various such City Council meetings, most recently in the City Council decision in late August to approve a footings permit for Killam/APM’s Sherwood Crossing project after other City officials had issued a Cease Construction Order to APM. Mayor Brown also vigorously contended that the 15 Haviland Killam/APM-proposed waterfront high-rise should be granted “as of right” without an opportunity for Council or public input. The 15 Haviland project does not even remotely qualify for “as of right” (without the need for additional approvals or amendments). He also contends that he doesn’t vote as mayor unless there is a tie. But he doesn’t mention that he sits and participates on every Council committee, including Planning Board, and has voting rights on all of them.

At an August 9th, 2021, Regular Monthly meeting of City Council, a councillor asked City Solicitor David Hooley what happens if a Council member has a conflict of interest and doesn’t declare it? What are the consequences? David Hooley replied that the consequences for a member who doesn’t declare a conflict of interest are serious, based on PEI’s Municipal Government Act. Mr Hooley noted that the consequences are also serious for the organization [i.e. City Council] because the person not declaring the conflict may taint the whole organization and require that the whole project approval process go back to Council again. This opinion by Mr Hooley should be a concern relating to Sherwood Crossing, and possibly other APM developments in which Mayor Brown has participated.

The Municipal Government Act (Section 96) is very clear.
(1) A council member is in a conflict of interest if, in relation to a matter under consideration by the council, the member or a person closely connected to the member
(a) has any pecuniary interest; ….
(2) A council member is in a conflict of interest if the member makes a decision or participates in making a decision in the execution of his or her office while at the same time the member knows or ought reasonably to know that the member’s private interests or the private interests of a person closely connected to the member affected the member’s impartiality in the making of the decision….
(3) A council member who is in a conflict of interest as described in subsection (1) or (2) shall
(a) declare the member’s interest in the matter before the council;
(b) remove himself or herself from the council meeting and any other meeting when the matter is discussed;
(c) abstain from the discussion and voting on the matter; and
(d) not attempt in any way, before, during or after a meeting, to influence the discussion or voting on any question, decision, recommendation or other action to be taken involving a matter in which the member has a conflict of interest.
(4) Subject to subsection (6), a member who fails to comply with clauses (3)(a) to (c) or who contravenes clause (3)(d) is disqualified from serving on council.”

Finally, although Future of Charlottetown has issues with Councillor Greg Rivard being the official real estate agent for Killam/APM’s Sherwood Crossing project, Councillor Rivard, to his credit, was quoted in a CBC interview last week as saying “I’ve stepped out of the room on any conversation because I’m in conflict,” he says. “Any discussion with regards to anything related to the developer, Tim Banks, any project that he comes forward with, I’m in conflict.”

Why shouldn’t Mayor Philip Brown have followed the same course and what, if anything, are the consequences for not doing so? Also, what are the City Solicitor’s responsibilities to advise City Council re this potentially serious conflict on the Mayor’s part and to protect the public interest, and what are the responsibilities of councillors in this matter? And what of the Province’s oversight role? The public needs answers.

Author: Doug MacArthur
Published Wednesday, 8 September 2021, on Future of Charlottetown Facebook page

What is permeable, pervious, or porous pavement?

Permeable, pervious or porous surfaces are types of pavement with a high porosity that allow rainwater to pass through into the ground below.

Permeable paving can be one part of building green parking lots, which can also include rain gardens, art, trees, solar covers, and other creative elements.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, permeable pavements can also help reduce flooding of building foundations and ponding of water on driveways, sidewalks and patios.

Ontario-based Random Acts of Green, a women-led social enterprise, recently published a blog post entitled “6 Ways Permeable Pavement Benefits the Earth”.


More on this topic:

Are Pervious, Permeable, and Porous Pavers Really the Same?

Excellent video (includes paid promotion) that explains and shows examples of how permeable pavement works (ends at 8:32)

II. Walkable urban places — Economic benefits

Walkable environments are not just healthier, but also wealthier. Research has shown positive correlations between improved walkability, raised local retail spend, enhanced value of local services and goods, and the creation of more job opportunities.1

“The economic value of walking has been described as the walking economy. There is a direct link between the city’s economic prosperity and the safety and convenience of the pedestrian experience.”

City of Melbourne, 2012

Robert Steuteville, editor of Public Square (a CNU Journal), has been publishing a series of articles based on the 2016 Cities Alive: Towards a walking world report, which shows the benefits of walkable cities – social, economic, environmental and political – and sets out measures for improving walkability.

This post itemizes the list from Steuteville’s article (link embedded in heading below), and includes additional details from the report.

Ten economic benefits of walkable places

  1. Boosts prosperity
    Investing in better streets and spaces for walking can provide a competitive return compared to other transport projects. Cycling and walking are estimated to provide up to $11.80 return of investment per $1 invested.
  2. Supports local business
    Clustering and proximity are critical to the success of commercial districts. While car dependency determined the rise of suburban malls, with associated issues such as ‘food deserts’, a dense and walkable urban network may facilitate the spread of small local shops and street markets, able to increase variety of goods and services, independent retailing, local employment and start-up opportunities.
  3. Enhances creative thinking and productivity
    According to studies, exercise improves the ability to make decisions and organise thoughts. And walking boosts creative inspiration.
  4. Enhances a city’s identity
    Investing in walking may contribute to a city’s efforts to transform its profile and create opportunities to shape the liveability, amenities and culture in the city.
  5. Promotes tourism
    For tourists, walking is the best way to experience a city since it increases the ‘imageability’ of a place – the quality that makes it recognisable and memorable.
  6. Encourages investments in cities and towns
    As cities continue to compete with each other to attract capital, walking may be a successful tool for the promotion of a city’s prosperity, making it attractive to private investments and providing economic benefits to the community.
  7. Attracts the “creative class”
  8. Increases land and property values
    Since young generations prefer living in walkable urban cores, a city’s walkability is predicted to be one of the main factors driving real estate values for many years to come.
  9. Activates street façades
    Promoting walking contributes to the vibrancy of the streetscape. The creation of a walkable environment, therefore, is a fundamental incentive to reduce vacancies and to promote the creation of thriving active street frontages.
  10. Reduces motor vehicle and road costs
    Walking is a free mode of transport. Creating more walkable environments — together with investment in public transport — can reduce congestion and maintenance costs and provide long-term transport solutions.

In a quality city, a person should be able to live their entire life without a car, and not feel deprived.

Paul Bedford, former City of Toronto Planning Director

1 Excerpts from Cities Alive: Towards a walking world, a report published by Arup in 2016.


Read more:

Walking is economic growth (by Tristan Cleveland) — You know walking is good for your physical health, and even your emotional wellbeing. But did you know it’s critical for the fiscal health of your city too?

The Economics of Walking (by Melissa Bruntlett) — This simple mode of travel could be the easy solution cities need to maintain and even bolster their economy.

Car Blindness (by Alex Dyer)— Ignoring the true cost of cars (and vision for the future)

I. Walkable urban places — Social benefits

Walking is our first mean of transport: every trip begins and ends with walking. Consequently, walkability is an extremely fascinating, evocative and inclusive concept. It goes beyond the good design of sidewalks and street-crossings which guarantee the ‘ability to walk’ for citizens. It expresses a multifaceted measure of how friendly an area is to walking, taking into consideration a complex and diversified set of features in its evaluation.

Robert Steuteville, editor of Public Square: A CNU Journal, has been publishing a series of articles based on the 2016 Cities Alive: Towards a walking world report [166 pages], which shows the benefits of walkable cities – economic, social, environmental and political – and sets out measures for improving walkability.

This post lists the benefits from Steuteville’s article (link embedded in heading below), but includes additional details from the report.

Ten social benefits of walking

  1. Promotes active living, for longer and better lives
    Walkability increases the accessibility of public space for people with different mobility levels and backgrounds, providing the chance to diversify and enrich street life and to create an attractive environment for people of all ages.
  2. Improves happiness and mental health
    Walking improves our mood. It reduces the risk of stress, anxiety and depression, positively affecting people’s mental health and happiness.
  3. Reduces obesity and chronic disease
  4. Fosters social interaction
    Redesigning the urban environment to encourage walking ability brings back people in the streets and increases activities in public space, dramatically improving the perception of safety and individual confidence.
  5. Saves lives on the street
    The increasing demands for safer streets in cities raise the urgency to prioritise pedestrian safety measures and to increase walkability levels.
  6. Tends to reduce crime
  7. Enhances “sense of place” and community identity
    Walking provides a great opportunity for people to experience cities at the human scale.
  8. Broadens universal accessibility and encourages inclusiveness
    Everyone is a pedestrian. Even those who usually drive, ride a bike, or commute by public transport, at some point of the day will change his or her mode and cross a street. Improving walkability and focusing the street design to less mobile citizens’ needs can unlock the city to everyone, increasing the street attractiveness and accessibility.
  9. Supports cultural initiatives
    Art that can best be enjoyed while on foot brings a local feel to an area, increasing the cultural vibrancy of the street life and the attractiveness for pedestrians.
  10. Promotes a vibrant urban experience
    Walkable streets shape the environment for a more active – and consquently most attractive – use of public realm.

“Restore human legs as a means of travel.
Pedestrians rely on food for fuel and need no special parking facilities.”

Lewis Mumford (1895–1990), American sociologist

Excerpts from Cities Alive: Towards a walking world, a report published by Arup in 2016.


Read more:

Canada Walks – a leader in Canada’s walking movement – has a Municipal Action page.

Pedestrians First is an organization that promotes walkability and all its benefits (under Why measure walkability?)