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Meeting Document Type: 
Resolution
Active School Travel Charter for the Region of Windsor-Essex County

Background

Active school transportation (AST) plays an important role in increasing students’ activity levels and associated improvements in mental and physical health. Common modes of active school transportation include walking, cycling, skateboarding, or scootering to and from school. Using active transportation for school travel can add two bouts of physical activity to a student’s day, helping them accumulate the recommended 60 minutes of activity daily from the Canadian 24-hour Movement Guidelines. Additionally, when more families use active transportation, there are fewer vehicles accessing the school zone leading to improvements in safety and air quality in the school community.

In February 2021, an information report was presented to the Board of Health detailing a the reciept of funds from successful grant from Green Communities Canada (GCC); a leading organization promoting active school travel through their administration and oversight of the Ontario Active School Travel Fund (OAST).  The OAST fund was created in 2018 to support active travel initiatives in selected communities across the province. These projects are expected to have a significant and lasting impact in their communities by establishing a foundation for continuing growth in the area of active school travel. Through the successful application led by Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU), in collaboration with vested commumunity partners in November 2020 the WECHU recieved funding in the amount of $60,000 from the OAST fund. This funding is to be used toward active transportation initiatives for schools throughout Windsor-Essex County during 2021 into early 2022. 

Current Initatives:

Since the information report was presented to the Board of Health in February 2021, the following key intiatives and activities have been completed, as part of the grant application:

  • Formed an Active School Travel (AST) Regional Committee which includes the following community partners:
    • The Greater Essex County School Board
    • The Windsor Essex Catholic District School Board
    • Conseil Scolaire Catholique Providence
    • Windsor Essex Student Transportation Services
    • The City of Windsor
    • Windsor Police Services
    • Bike Windsor Essex
    • County of Essex
  • Hired and trained an Active Travel Planner to assist schools and boards in implementing plans and coordinate community education and outreach.
  • Terms of Reference Created for the AST Regional Committee.
  • Active School Travel Charter created to be signed by municipalities and school boards.
  • Established pilot school sites (6 schools); Confirmed and onboarded a main point of contact for future school working groups to lead school-focused interventions.
  • Conducted baseline surveys with students and family members at six pilot schools to determine typical travel modes to and from school.

Issue

As indicated above, one of the key initiatives completed by the Windsor-Essex County AST Regional Committee was the creation of an Active School Travel Charter (Attached). Active School Travel Charters help in strengthening regional coordination, collaboration, and leveraging our collective resources and knowledge that will help in supporting long-term program sustainability. Endorsing and adopting an Active School Travel Charter would demonstrate support and highlight the importance of active transportation-supporting programs, policies and infrastructure within Windsor-Essex County.

The Charter will help serve as a statement of principles to guide schools, school boards, municipalities, student transportation services, and other community partners to consider how activities and decisions can encourage more active transportation in our local communities. The Charter principles align with the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit’s mandates to support a comprehensive approach to physical and mental health promotion, increase levels of physical activity, reduce sedentary behaviours among children and youth, and make active living accessible and safe in our communities.  In order to gather support from key stakeholders within the community, WECHU would like to present this Active School Travel Charter to local municipalities and school boards to endorse and adopt as part of a regional initiative for Windsor-Essex County.

PROPOSED MOTION

Whereas According the to the 2020 Participaction Report Card on physical activity for children and youth, less than 1 in 5 children (5-11 year-olds) and youth (12-17 year-olds) in Canada are meeting national movement behaviour guidelines for physical activity, sedentary behaviours and sleep.

Whereas Active school transportation (AST) plays an important role in helping to increase students’ activity levels and associated improvements in mental and physical health. In addition, AST helps children/youth accumulate the recommended 60 minutes of activity daily from the Canadian 24-hour Movement Guidelines.

Whereas The Windsor-Essex County Health Unit was awarded funds for the Ontario Active School Travel Grant from Green Communities Canada (GCC) in the amount of $60, 000 which will be used to create initiatives, polices, and environmental supports around active school travel in Windsor-Essex County.

Whereas The Ontario Active School Travel Grant will help provide long-term sustainability and community partnerships to create and improve upon active school travel that is accessible and safe for children and youth in Windsor-Essex County.

Whereas The endorsement from the Windsor-Essex County Board of Health of an active school transportation charter that will help in strengthening regional coordination, collaboration, and leveraging our collective community resources and knowledge and add weight to the importance of active transportation-supporting programs, policies and infrastructure within Windsor-Essex County

Now therefore be it resolved that the Windsor-Essex County Board of Health supports the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit in presenting the AST initiatives and Active School Travel Charter to local municipalities and school boards in order for these key stakeholders to endorse the initiatives and adopt a regional Active School Travel Charter for Windsor-Essex County.

AND FURTHER that this resolution be shared with all local municipal councils, all local school boards, the Association of Local Public Health Agencies, Ontario Boards of Health, Ontario Public Health Association, and Green Communities Canada.