‘People said they felt excluded’
New inner-city report calls for better transportation services, route to beach
A new report calls for more accessible, affordable transportation for people in Winnipeg’s inner city, including a Winnipeg Transit route to the beach.
As part of Ellen Smirl’s research for the 14th annual State of the Inner City Report, she interviewed 20 inner city residents on their transportation struggles. When asked where they would like to go that they are unable to, nearly all those surveyed said ‘the beach’.
“For people who are highly mobile, own a vehicle and can use it whenever they want, sometimes you forget there are people who have never left the perimeter,” said Smirl, at the report’s presentation at Thunderbird House on Friday.
The report recommends Winnipeg Transit explore a weekly bus to the beach at Bird’s Hill Park, as it does every year for Winnipeg Folk Fest. Smirl acknowledges it seems like a frivolous recommendation, but said studies show there are important ties between access to greenspaces and overall well-being.
“A lot of people said they felt excluded knowing that other people are doing it (going to the beach), but they can’t go there,” said Smirl.
Smirl outlined several other recommendations she drew from her research.
“The top two overarching things are to start having conversations when we are planning a transportation system about equity and how some people are severely disadvantaged,” said Smirl.
She deliberately used the word equity instead of equality, because equality implies sameness. “Not everybody starts off at the same point in life. There are a lot of people who start off with severe disadvantages,” she said.
A lot of people have friends or relatives with vehicles that can help you move when you need.
“I spoke to a lot of people who don’t have that,” she said. “When they move, they move with a shopping cart. When they have to laundry, they have to drag it down the street in a wagon.”
Her next biggest recommendation was for the city to invest more in transit and active transportation.
“We need to think about transportation the same way we think about recreation, libraries, having neighbourhood pools — as a public good,” said Smirl.
Other recommendations in the report include developing the low-income bus pass with a sliding income scale instead of a 50% reduction, improved Handi-transit service, improved snow removal to make transportation more accessible, and improved safety for Indigenous women taking taxis.