Haliburton County Transportation Summit
Date: January 18, 2017
On Tuesday November 15th, 2016 community stakeholders, leaders and key decision-makers from across different sectors came together to discuss a plan for addressing transportation issues in Haliburton County. Over 70 people attended a day-long event to listen to several speakers from surrounding regions talk about their innovative services. This was followed by a panel discussion and small group conversations which were devoted to determining what actions could be taken within Haliburton County to create a more mobile and better connected community.
It was agreed that transportation is a multi-sector issue that impacts economic development, tourism, housing, social services, poverty reduction, employment and health & wellness. By establishing a connected, sustainable and appropriate “system” of various transportation services, local residents, cottagers and visitors alike will be better able to “get where they need to go”. Such a system will also bolster the community's overall economic, social and environmental health, making it more vibrant and resilient in the long term.
Among the sectors that were represented at the event were the following:
• Business, economic development & tourism
• All 3 levels of Government – municipal (lower & upper tier), provincial & federal
• Transportation operators - public, private & non-profit
• Health, social services & housing
• Education, training, employment & poverty reduction
• Community organizations
• Those representing specific populations - children & youth, students, people with disabilities, seniors, those with low-incomes, etc.
• Consultants & researchers
• Affected residents
The day began with presentations on a framework for developing a transportation system in a rural area such as Haliburton County. This was followed by an overview of the types of transportation services that are currently available in the region. Next were a series of presentations on both local initiatives that offer opportunities and innovative programs from surrounding or similar regions. This was then followed by a panel discussion on lessons learned with suggestions for moving forward.
Key messages from the guest presenters were:
1) The role of municipalities in terms of providing commitment to & involvement in addressing transportation
2) The importance of collaboration and partnerships, including gathering research from and corresponding with other communities
3) The “coordination” of services to extend reach, achieve efficiency and effectiveness
4) Creation of a Transportation Plan or Strategy, to be tackled incrementally - implementing one aspect at a time and doing it well before moving on
5) Take a multi-modal approach, as people rely on various modes of travel (e.g., walking, driving, public transit, etc.)
6) Cross-sector, integrated planning is necessary to create an effective system for everyone
7) Beneficial impacts result re: economic, social & environmental resiliency for the community
In the afternoon, small groups were tasked with funneling the information from the speakers into tabletop designs of a transportation system for Haliburton County, drawing on the information, knowledge and expertise of the various sector representatives within each group. Groups were also asked to identify already existing assets, short, medium & long term actions, and additional resources required.
Some of the things that emerged from discussions were ideas to improve the coordination of services, and collaboration between relevant organizations, such as creating a platform for transportation providers to discuss coordination and the establishment of a centralized agency for booking and scheduling. There was conversation about creating a more integrated transportation “system” including everything from an inter-community transit route using a bus or van (with a feeder system from outlying areas), to scheduled, fixed routes connecting the local villages of Minden and Haliburton.
Active transportation, such as walking and cycling, is already viewed as important to County residents and visitors. So it was not only presented as a transportation option itself, but also as a necessary way to access other options in the system. Many spoke of the need for additional paved shoulders in the area, for cyclists, those using scooters, and pedestrians. A majority of groups felt that expansion of the current rideshare initiative was also required as a means to connect more people with travel options. Other components of the designed systems included elements ranging from lift-stops to car-share options.
In follow-up to the event, a Taskforce will be established to carry the results forward and create a transportation system plan, comprised of short, medium and long term actions for implementation over the next 10 years.