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Sidewalks are Important to House Hunters

SIMCOE, ON, SEPTEMBER 21, 2010 – A large percentage of Haldimand and Norfolk residents look for communities with connected sidewalks and paths when they are deciding where to live.

A report released last week by the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit, entitled Walkable Communities in Haldimand and Norfolk, revealed that when making a decision about where to live, citizens value a community that makes it easy to walk or cycle to destinations in the neighbourhood.

Although less than half of the participants in the community-based survey were familiar with the term ‘walkable community’, respondents valued connected walkways, along with parks, stores and restaurants within short walking distances.

“A walkable community is an environment which supports walking as a form of everyday transportation, where people can walk to school, work, stores, parks and restaurants,” said Heather Keam, Health Promoter with the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit.

The telephone survey was conducted by walkON, a collaborative program of health departments in Central West Ontario. The committee was looking to learn more about the public’s knowledge, attitude and thoughts and opinions regarding walkable communities.

Well-maintained, connected and well-lit roads, sidewalks and paths were identified by respondents as the three leading factors in the built environment and neighbourhood design that could affect people’s abilities to be physically active. There were, however, characteristics of walkable communities that some local citizens were not ready to embrace yet.

“Some respondents were opposed to the idea of adding new types of housing to their neighbourhoods, such as townhouses, apartments and condos,” noted Keam. “Now that we have this report we can better address the desires and concerns of Haldimand and Norfolk residents. We hope to show them that building communities with mixed types of housing improves density, prevents urban sprawl, and helps create vibrant, walkable communities.”

The Health Unit, along with local active transportation community groups Norfolk Pathways for People and Caledonia on the Move, plan to share the survey results with county departments and other stakeholders.

“Collaboration between various municipal departments including roads, tourism, economic development and public health, is essential to develop creative, sustainable solutions that will support walking and cycling as a viable transportation method for the citizens of Haldimand and Norfolk,” said Keam.

The full report is available on the Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit’s website at www.hnhu.org.

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Media contact:
Heather Keam
Health Promoter
Population Health Team
Haldimand-Norfolk Health Unit
Ext. 3208 at either 519-426-6170 or 905-318-6623
heather.keam@hnhu.org