Amherst takes strong look at its ‘walk­a­bil­ity’

Pub­lic in­put wanted Thurs­day to make com­mu­nity more ac­tive

The Citizen-Record (Cumberland) - - FRONT PAGE - BY CHRISTO­PHER GOOD­ING CIT­I­ZEN-RECORD AMHERST

It’s the eas­i­est, cheap­est way to get around but lit­tle has been done to plan for its fu­ture – un­til now.

The Town of Amherst hosted a work­shop ded­i­cated the old­est method of mo­bil­ity this month and start the dis­cus­sion how it can plan for a bet­ter walking ex­pe­ri­ence in the fu­ture. Brought for­ward by the Heart and Stroke Foun­da­tion, the dis­cus­sion saw part­ners with the Town of Amherst, the SOAR Com­mu­nity Health Board and more ex­plore the ben­e­fits of a com­mu­nity that has “walk­a­bil­ity.”

“The No. 1 choice for phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity and ac­ces­si­bil­ity for ac­tive trans­porta­tion is walking,” Amherst’s recre­ation di­rec­tor Bill Schur­man said dur­ing a break at the Com­mu­nity Credit Union Busi­ness In­no­va­tion Cen­tre June 1. “Th­ese sem­i­nars have been go­ing on around the prov­ince and we were lucky enough to have one come to Amherst.”

Mu­nic­i­pal plan­ning takes a look at the needs of to­day and projects the needs of to­mor­row. For many decades that plan­ning re­lied heav­ily on the suc­cess and pop­u­lar­ity of the au­to­mo­bile but to­day there is a defin­ing trend mov­ing away from au­to­mo­bile own­er­ship by younger gen­er­a­tions and a rise in com­muter ser­vices like Uber and Rideshare, mean­ing more will be look­ing to ac­tive trans­porta­tion for the small dis­tances they travel in the not so dis­tant fu­ture. All that means good things for the health of a com­mu­nity. Michael Todd with Health and Stroke Foun­da­tion said.

“It is clear trough re­search phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity is go­ing to de­crease a per­sons risk of heart disease and stroke by a huge per­cent­age, there­for putting the in­vest­ment into get­ting peo­ple ac­tive in a va­ri­ety of ways is cru­cially im­por­tant,” Todd said. “We have the Walk­a­bil­ity pro­gram all over Nova Sco­tia, and that’s a train­ing lead­ers to cre­ate walking groups and get­ting peo­ple ac­tive.”

On the hori­zon for Amherst is an ac­tive trans­porta­tion pub­lic meet­ing June 8 at the Com­mu­nity Credit Union Busi­ness In­no­va­tion Cen­tre (a.k.a the old town hall). The pub­lic is en­cour­aged to show up for the 7 p.m. con­sul­ta­tion and add their voice to what changes they would like to see, or not see, for ac­tive trans­porta­tion in the com­mu­nity.

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