ON THE RIGHT TRACK
This month, POW Canada headed to Ottawa to talk about an issue that we know is close to outdoor enthusiasts’ hearts: transportation.
How do we know you care? Because over TWO THOUSAND of you responded to our recent survey, and the results spoke for themselves. Here’s what you told us:
- Nearly all of you reach your preferred outdoor destination by driving, mostly alone.
- For 65% of you, getting there by public transportation would be not at all convenient (this jumps to 79% for the Ontarians)
- Because of a lack of transportation, 47% of outdoor enthusiasts have been deterred from participating in an outdoor activity
- 85% of us would take public transportation if it was available in our areas, and convenient.
So, we took your voices to MPs and their senior staffers, to propose that the government set up a taskforce to study and develop solutions to the gap-filled patchwork that is regional transportation in Canada. We argued that not only is investment in transport a great way to reduce emissions and get cars off the road, but that it would boost regional economies by bringing new people to outdoor destinations and connecting local communities with jobs in their area. We also pointed out that this is an important equity issue - all Canadians should have the right to experience the outdoors, but many are missing out because they don’t have access to a private vehicle, or the costs of driving are just too high.
And the great news? The people we spoke to agreed.
Photo: Zoya Lynch (@zoyalynch)
Although we weren’t able to get every Ministry aligned on HOW to address transportation on this trip, they consistently told us that they agree there are huge opportunities to improve, that the proposal and research we presented is smart, and that this is a “low hanging fruit” issue that they would like to support POW Canada to push forward.
This is really encouraging, and we couldn’t have done it without each and every one of you adding your voices and sharing your experiences in our transport survey. Of course, government is a complicated thing to navigate, and we know that these changes will take time. One challenge is that the responsibility for planning and funding transport doesn’t sit with any one area. It’s a mish-mash of Federal, Provincial and Municipal governments, along with private providers. As well as transport, it crosses environment, intergovernmental affairs, budget and finance, Indigenous affairs and many other touchpoints. It’s like completing an Alpine circuit, but instead of just following the circular route, you need to connect each waypoint to every other waypoint along the way!
What Happens Next
So, our next steps will be to work with interested MPs to set up a sustainable regional transportation summit, where we can bring everyone together and start to really build some momentum for change. Because this is about more than just a new shuttle bus here and there, it’s about big, systemic change that will benefit our country for years into the future, and support a whole new generation of outdoors people.
We’ve already started talking to legislators in Ontario, who are also making really positive noises, so although our public campaign is done (for now), this is really just the beginning of the work that will be happening behind the scenes.
What You Can Do
What can you do next? Lots! First, please take a minute to sign our petition for a National Sustainable Transportation Strategy, and share it with your friends. This is more data that we can use to build a case for transport solutions for outdoor destinations, and it makes a BIG impact.
Second, call your Federal and Provincial representatives. Let them know that you’re a POW Canada supporter and you want to add your voice to a call for better transportation solutions in your area. This is effective because MPs really worry about what their voters think - it’s no coincidence that in the regions with the most pressing transportation issues, the MPs were the most receptive to our message, because they’re already hearing it from their constituents.
Last, PLEASE make sure you’re a POW Canada member. That’s different to following us on social, but it’s way more important - just by sharing your email address, you’re massively boosting our advocacy capacity.
It’s a long road ahead, but we’ve made a REALLY strong start, thanks to you.
And a huge thank you to the incredible POW team of athletes and brand representatives who joined us and told incredibly compelling stories that drove our message home:
Marion Thenault (@marionthenault)
Sandy Ward (@sutik.maqa7)
Will Gadd (@realwillgadd)
Mario Rigby (@mariorigby)
Caitlin Foisy. (@runhardmomhard)
Photo: Zoya Lynch (@zoyalynch)
Want to learn more? Read our Policy Brief for MPs here.