‘Peo­ple said they felt ex­cluded’

New in­ner-city re­port calls for bet­ter trans­porta­tion ser­vices, route to beach

Winnipeg Sun - - NEWS - LUKE REMPEL

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.

SMIRL Re­searcher

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