Edmonton is currently preparing a new City Plan which will replace all of the existing Ways Plans and will represent our provincially required Municipal Development Plan (currently The Way We Grow) and Transportation Master Plan (currently The Way We Move). The new City Plan is on track to be completed by mid-2020 and will be designed to bring Council’s vision and four goals to life. Because The City Plan is fundamentally a plan for people it’s going to be informed by the input and needs of Edmontonians the whole way through.
As shown in our recent Household Travel Survey, over the last ten year measurement period (2005-2015) the number of daily trips taken by Edmontonians increased from 2.56 million to 3.14 million. As Edmonton grows from 1 to 2 million people over the coming decades this number is expected to increase. But will we be travelling in the same ways and for the same reasons that we do now? To address this challenge, managing the future of our mobility system will need to feature prominently in the City Plan. This will include everything from supporting local community walkability to enabling wide-scale commercial goods movement.
As we all experience everyday, our mobility networks (from roads to rail tracks to sidewalks and bike lanes) allow us to collectively make hundreds of millions of trips each year in Edmonton. Our diverse paths and routes help both people and goods move from A to B. If parks and open spaces are the lungs of our city then the transportation system acts as the arteries. But mobility is not just about keeping our city moving. What we might not think about, as often, is how much our mobility networks can impact, and be impacted by, things like climate, technology, health and livability, social equity, and investment attraction and economic development in our city. What’s also interesting to consider is how these impacts are fundamentally connected to each other.
Will a future technology-enabled transportation system deliver on our community’s healthy city and urban places goals? Will our mobility system enable multi-modal, efficient and connectedness that attracts the investment and talent that businesses and people have said they want and need to support a prosperous region? Does the way we have designed our transportation systems create greater social disparity or work to improve equity of opportunity for everyone? Will our transportation systems and the growth patterns they support be designed to minimize GHG emissions and improve Edmonton’s climate resilience?
To fully understand these overlapping questions, a key piece of research – a Vision for Mobility – is being created as part of The City Plan. It will provide a clear and compelling summary of the policy aims related to the transportation system and how it serves the needs of all Edmontonians. This means that we should be able to trace back the policy directions related to transportation in The City Plan to the Vision for Mobility statement and we should understand what decisions we collectively need to make next to adapt to a changing future.
Preparing a Vision for Mobility through The City Plan was identified as a key next step (action #15) to implement Edmonton’s Smart Transportation Action Plan which was presented to City Council in September 2018. Work on a Vision for Mobility will be a priority for the coming year, and I will continue to provide updates and ask for your feedback on how Edmonton might re-think its long term transportation strategies, and support shorter-term pilot projects, so that businesses can thrive and residents can connect and more efficiently access their daily needs.
As Edmonton continues to grow, finding new ways to get around will be an important part of our future city. I’d like to hear your thoughts on what Edmonton needs to do to create better transportation systems and also encourage you to get involved in developing The City Plan.