This short article, Study: People prefer walkable communities, by Rebecca at MSN Real Estate gives a quick review of why people are changing their minds about moving to the suburbs. Though it focuses on the American lifestyle, I think Canadians are starting to weigh in on similar concepts:
1. Willing to choose a smaller home to commute less to work
2. Want their homes to be walkable to stores and shops, not needing to get in a car to go shopping
3. Want to limit the gas expense and the time wasted sitting in traffic
I really liked the idea of “Find your walk score“. I think this is a great link for homebuyers to consider as part of their buying process, especially if looking in areas that are not familiar.
This intrigued me to investigate further, to see what would be considered the most walkable cities in Canada.
West Jet’s UP! had a panel of judges determine Canada’s most walkable Cities 2010. With no surprise, Vancouver was named number 1. However, I found this list some what disappointing. Within Canada we don’t have many large metropolitan communities, so in all fairness, it would seem that there isn’t much to compete against. If Calgary can make number 8 on the list, then I think we may need to rethink what means walkable – or alternatively, to expand the concept of “city”. Although the bustling Albertan community is making “pathways” of change with their recreational path along the Bow and Elbow river, that doesn’t mean that the extensive sprawl of community developments encourage people to live closer to where they work, drive less, or walk to a shop to pick up milk. The Calgary philosophy is still to get in your car to go anywhere or get anything.
There are a number of other cities in Canada that may have been bypassed in this contest. For example, there are a number of cities in BC alone that are “walkable”. Such communities as Port Moody, Kelowna, Vernon or Revelstoke.
However it is decided, the hope is that these types of lists encourage cities to continuously make efforts to build and develop with densities that support transit, shops and recreation within walking distances.