Since 2009, The Centre for Active Transportation (TCAT) has played a leadership role in accelerating the Complete Streets movement across Canada. TCAT’s work has been anchored around building momentum and growing community and government interest in Complete Streets.
In 2012, TCAT launched the Complete Streets for Canada website — a “go-to” hub for Complete Streets policy, design, case studies, and research in Canada. The website provides the necessary knowledge base and policy frameworks for municipalities to move toward streets that provide equitable access to all modes of travel. With the help of student interns and volunteers, TCAT has tracked, documented, and researched Complete Streets policy and best practice across the country. In addition to creating this hub, TCAT has taken on a range of other Complete Streets projects over the past decade:
- Between 2010 and 2015, TCAT hosted six international Complete Streets Forums, bringing together Complete Streets experts and practitioners.
- In 2013, TCAT worked on a team commissioned by Toronto Public Health to identify and assess published evidence for how specific street design choices influence health outcomes. This work influenced the development of Toronto’s Complete Streets Guidelines and former TCAT Director Nancy Smith Lea was on the City of Toronto’s Complete Street Guidelines Stakeholder Advisory Committee (2015-2016).
- TCAT led the development of a series of research publications about Complete Streets including Complete Street Transformations (2016), Complete Streets Catalogue & Evaluation Tool (2015), and Complete Streets by Design (2012).
- In 2015, TCAT was commissioned by the Grey Bruce Health Unit to develop a Complete Streets Policy & Implementation Guide for Grey and Bruce Counties.
- In 2018, TCAT released the Complete Streets Game 2.0 (beta version released in 2013), a fun, interactive capacity-building workshop tool that helps groups understand the size and scale of different modes of transportation and work collaboratively to re-imagine their local street as a Complete Street.
What’s Next for Complete Streets for Canada?
Since 2020, TCAT has updated Complete Streets Canada less frequently as we’ve stretched ourselves in the direction of other exciting active transportation projects. But even though we slowed down, Complete Streets hasn’t. That’s the beauty of a sustained movement! We are energized by every ounce of advocacy that continues to advance Complete Streets and can’t wait to get back to cultivating this site as a central hub and resource for that work.
We believe Complete Streets is as powerful and relevant a tool as ever and are in the process of critically reviewing what Complete Streets means for TCAT going forward. Complete Streets have and always will be about bringing the needs of vulnerable road users to the forefront of the conversation and highlighting the ways in which transportation serves as a conduit to environmental, economic, and social health. But how have the rapid changes in our climate, our world, our cities, and our communities changed what that means in practice? Here are some of the questions we are asking ourselves:
- How can Complete Streets promote equitable health outcomes, including as a global pandemic rapid response and recovery tool?
- How can Complete Streets connect with transportation poverty related initiatives, such as free public transit?
- What is the relationship between Complete Streets and housing? Where are the opportunities for Complete Streets advocates to work with affordable housing and transit-oriented development initiatives?
- Can Complete Streets infrastructure impact gender-based violence and race-based violence?
- What is the role of policing on Complete Streets?
- Can Complete Streets be harnessed as a path towards reconciliation?
- What Canadian jurisdictions have been most successful in implementing Complete Streets policies? What enabled them to be successful?
- What Canadian jurisdictions have struggled with implementing Complete Streets policies? What are the major barriers?
Stay tuned as we work through these big, tough, and essential questions. If your municipality has a Complete Streets policy that you would like to share or you find yourself wrestling with these questions too, please reach out to us by email.
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The Centre for Active Transportation (TCAT)
Clean Air Partnership
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Toronto, Ontario M5G 1P4