News Manitoba

Rural communities lead the way in walking and cycling

Have you heard about the"Age Friendly, Bike Friendly, Kid Friendly" strategy in St. Malo?

Did you know that per capita more children walk or bike to school in the City of Thompson than in the City of Winnipeg?

Do you know about the trail tourism project Borders to Beaches?

On Wednesday March 21, municipal leaders, parks and recreation practitioner, health professionals, trail advocates, cycling enthusiasts, pedestrians, planners, engineers, elders, community volunteers, and students from around Manitoba will gather in Portage La Prairie for the Gaining Ground: Connecting People and Knowledge Provincial Conference on Active Transportation and Recreation.

In the past, people who walk to school or work often did so out of necessity, rather than as a way of getting exercise or out of concern for the environment. Today however, we have more sedentary lifestyles, depend on motor vehicle transportation, and breathe poorer quality air. As a result, we need to encourage more active ways of getting places.

"Transportation is everyone's business and everyone should care. We are at a crucial and opportune time to upgrade our infrastructure in our small rural communities, but the only way to see this to realization is through partnerships and properly planning. If we are going to improve our active transportation infrastructure and put the support mechanisms in place to encourage residents and visitors to use it, we need to do it right. This conference, especially for rural communities, is a step in the right direction for us to gain some innovative ground," shares Lesley Gaudry, Economic Development Officer, Rural Municipality of De Salaberry.

If you look around your community you will find people working to improve opportunities for children to walk to school, for trails to be seen as economic development and tourism assets, and for better infrastructure crossings at highways. Each municipality in Manitoba has a story to tell and this conference will be a venue to learn from your neighbour and to share your story.

"We are presently in the development stages of connecting our city with bicycle paths, so it will be interesting to hear successes other communities have had and learn form their experiences. Our city offers a wide range of physical activities for young and old alike and we welcome the opportunity to share our experiences with the conference participants," said Portage La Prairie Mayor Earl Porter.

The Gaining Ground Conference registration information is available at www.pacm.ca. Registration is now open. Funding support for this conference was provided by the Government of Manitoba through Manitoba in motion, a provincial strategy to help all Manitobans make physical activity part of their daily lives for health benefits and enjoyment.