Using AT to Bring Rural and Urban Together

December 10th 2014

In urban areas, encouraging Active Transportation (AT) means making downtowns more walkable and streets more bikeable. Outside the city or town, promoting AT often depends on major infrastructure improvements and connections such as trails and paved shoulders.

The town of Bridgewater and the Municipality of the District of Lunenburg (MODL) have a good working relationship, and although one is urban and one is rural,  they share two things: key goals for getting the residents of Lunenburg County up and moving and the kind of good working relationship that allows them to link up their AT plans to ensure connectivity.

In Bridgewater, a community group has been hard at work on AT since 2003 and helped to develop the Active Transportation and Connectivity Plan in 2008. Sustainability Planner Leon DeVreede describes the local AT Committee as the “go-to place” for programming and infrastructure decisions.

The Municipality of the District of Lunenburg developed its AT Plan in 2010. Active Living Coordinator Tracy Vandermolen calls it “a living document” that is updated annually. Current AT priorities are infrastructure and education, programs, policy, and advocacy. This complements Bridgewater’s commitment to promoting healthy lifestyles and environmental and economic sustainability through their AT plan.

One of Lunenburg’s key projects—the Arthur Young Trail, a connector from the Pine Grove shopping area outside of Bridgewater to the LaHave River trail—compliments and connects to the AT infrastructure around Bridgewater. A system of trails, sharable roadways, and sidewalks now connects the town to the county around it.

In a case like this, when a community is lucky enough to have rural and urban AT plans that match, it results in connections between municipal boundaries, shared priorities, and complimentary facilities, all that help build a culture of active-living, an important contributor to good health.

Are there opportunities to do the same in your region?  Get involved, check out resources to help plan or contact Bridgewater and the Municipality of Lunenburg (MODL) to learn more about what they did.