British Columbia is the westernmost province of Canada. It is Canada’s third-most populous province with a population of approximately 5 million. Due to the province’s rugged and varying terrain, British Columbia relies on an extensive network of provincial highways to connect its communities. Many cities and towns within the province have adopted Complete Streets policies including Vancouver, Victoria, Kelowna, and more.
In June 2019, British Columbia published its Active Transportation Strategy which outlines the importance of a Complete Streets approach in its mission to create safe active transportation networks.
The Active Transportation Strategy provides three key pathways to increase active transportation. The key directions have also been further categorized as short-term actions (less than a year), medium-term actions (1 to 2 years), and long-term actions (more than 2 years).
Key direction 3 states, “Working together and planning for the future: Policy and planning should support integrated, comprehensive active transportation networks” (p. 12). Its initiative mentions “common planning and design guidelines for active transportation” which also includes the importance of a complete streets approach (p. 24). The province encourages communities to incorporate Complete Streets into their local transportation frameworks.
The Active Transportation Design Guide was published in 2019 by the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure. The document provides design and planning guidelines and mentions complete streets under the environmental considerations section (p. B-16).
The complete streets section provides street classifications, nine types of street zones, and types of diverse street users for active transportation, with an emphasis on cyclists (p. B17-B23).
Throughout the guide there is a commitment to complete streets, with implementation and performance monitoring strategies. There is also a section on how land use design is vital to the level of connectivity of a neighbourhood.
The B.C. Community Road Safety Toolkit is a resource designed to “consolidate and disseminate knowledge about proven and promising road safety designs, strategies, and devices, rather than to provide technical knowledge.” It is divided into three modules:
- Protecting People Walking and Cycling
- Safe Roadway Designs to Protect All Users
- Implementation Tools and Strategies
Complete streets are specifically mentioned in Module 1, under the section Separating Road Users in Physical Space: Road Diets and Complete Streets (p.13). This section goes on to explain how the ideas of road diet and complete streets work, evidence of their effectiveness, and the features needed to achieve the best results.
Age-friendly and Disability-friendly Official Community Plans is a guide developed as part of “Accessibility 2024, British Columbia’s 10-year action plan supporting its vision of becoming the most progressive province for people with disabilities in Canada” (p.2). These types of plans “can make it easier for seniors and people with disabilities and health and activity limitations…to move around their communities and participate in all aspects of community life –economic, social, recreational and cultural – through improved planning, design, and service provision” (p.2).
Within this plan is a recognition of Complete Streets as an important planning and design process to consider when creating age and disability-friendly communities. Guideline 5.1 – Active Transportation Objective and Policies notes that prioritizing traffic calming measures and complete streets (among other considerations) helps improve accessibility through active transportation (p.24). Guideline 5.12 – Urban Design Objectives and Policies further promotes complete streets policy as an accessible urban design measure.