The City of Guelph in Ontario and Parachute organized a Vision Zero Walkshop that took place on Oct. 23, 2023 in the Onward Willow neighbourhood, identified as an equity-deserving community.

The event, attended by 55 invited guests, city and Parachute staff, kicked off at the Shelldale Community Centre with a welcome from the city’s Deputy Mayor Carly Klassen and several presentations, including:

  • Jennifer Juste, Transportation Planning Manager for the City of Guelph
  • Dana Nuttley, Shelldale Family Gateway
  • Sara Sayyed, Senior Policy Advisor, Equity, Anti-Racism & Indigenous Initiatives at the City Of Guelph
  • Valerie Smith, Parachute’s Director of Road Safety Programs
  • Kyle Wilson, Chief Information Officer, Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health

The walkshop route

No. 1 – Kate Berry, Project Manager, Sustainable Transportation

Shelldale Crescent is the gateway to an important community hub offering a variety of health, social and recreational services. It is also adjacent to industrial lands and is used by trucks and other heavy vehicles. At this stop we considered the impacts of the surrounding land uses and their transportation needs.

No. 2 – Lauren Short, Road Safety Technologist, and Tiffany Hanna, Parks Planner

Based on community requests, the City of Guelph recently studied and identified an opportunity to install a pedestrian crossing on Dawson between Shelldale and Willow. This stop discussed the crossing location and and how it’ll be placed in alignment with future trail connections park planners are working on advocating for through new development in the area.

No. 3 – Josée Dumont, Transport Safety Engineer, True North Safety Group

The signalized intersection of Willow Road at Dawson Road has a Leading Pedestrian Interval (LPI) installed. The City of Guelph participated in a study lead by True North Safety Group which studied conflict analysis between drivers and pedestrians at LPI locations, including this intersection. This stop discussed LPIs and the study results.

No. 4 – Paul Hutchison, Supervisor, Traffic Engineering

Edinburgh Road North and Willow Road is a signalized arterial intersection that functions with unique design and roadway features such as: close proximity to a railway line, hydro pole alignment, right turn channelization and high pedestrian volumes. This stop will be an example of a location where although through our Vision Zero lens we strive to implement improvements wherever possible, the unique aspects of the intersection limit what can be done to improve road safety.

No. 5 – Laura Catalano-Bragues, Supervisor, Transit Planning and Scheduling, Guelph Transit

This stop is an example of a transit stop that was introduced prior to best-practice adoptions of mid-block crossings, which address the safety, demands and design of the area. This stop discussed the important balance between adhering to Guelph Transit service and stop standards, while aligning with city transportation safety initiatives.

No. 6 – Liraz Fridman, Road Safety Supervisor

This stop highlighted some of the city’s recent to improvements to road safety in the area and across the city including installation of Community Safety Zones, 40 km/h neighbourhood speed limits, automated speed enforcement and red light cameras.

No. 7 – Mallory Lemon, Manager, Park and Trail Development

Woman in neon yellow safety vest speaks to seven adults in light jackets and two adults orange safety vests standing in a loose circle outdoors on a basketball playing court.

At this stop, participants saw the newly constructed Norm Jay Park. This project, begun in 2021 with public consultation, transformed an overcrowded basketball court and abandoned tennis court into a true community space that serves the unique needs of local residents. However, the park, adjacent school and community centre are framed by busy arterial roads, making it challenging for residents who live beyond those roads to safely access these facilities.

Post-tour discussion

Tour participants gathered back at the Shelldale Community Centre for lunch and a facilitated discussion that touched on topics including:

  • Reports from each tour group about their observations
  • What surprised participants as they walked the route
  • What Vision Zero interventions already in place were improving safety
  • Identifying what they would like to see changed to improve safety

Participant and community feedback

In a post-event survey, 100 per cent of participants agreed that they would attend this type of event again, and that they would recommend others attend a walkshop, as well. All ranked the walkshop either “engaging” or “very engaging”.

Three-quarters agreed that they learned more about Vision Zero and nearly 90 per cent said that the walkshop impacted their view of equity in the transportation sector.

Other feedback from survey comments:

  • Giving members of the community a chance to share was such a welcoming and inclusive addition!
  • Please do this type of engagement activities more!
  • As a transportation professional working on this day-to-day, I did not learn as much as others might have learned, but it was still a valuable experience. The format was a good way of engaging a wide audience with different experiences.
  • I would like the City of Guelph to consider going further and look at solutions to some of the challenges highlighted in the walkshop
  • Certainly, follow through with this particular community but I’d like to be able to have a template and assistance in how to set up similar event or events in our community.

Next step: Design workshop

Guelph is organizing an all-day workshop to address safe and active transportation in equity-deserving communities scheduled for Thursday June 13, 2024.

This will include an opening panel discussion “lessons from Copenhagen on healthy, active city design” followed by a design workshop to identify systemic barriers to equitable access to active transportation in the Shelldale/Willow/Dawson community.