15 Minute Cities – Think Globally, Act Locally
The population of the City of New Westminster has been growing exponentially even though its area has not increased, and our citizens have been suffering from higher costs of living as well as higher rentals in many areas. It is important to have an improved plan to support the infrastructure and decrease traffic on our roads. As a compounding note, a typical passenger vehicle emits about 4.6 tons of carbon dioxide per year; stopping some of these emissions would bring the city more breathable air, less smog, cooler air, less noise pollution, fewer health problems for its citizens, and happier, healthier citizens. In our vision, the City of New Westminster would formally endorse the plan to become a 15-minute city and become an example to the whole Province of BC on how people and nature can coexist in harmony.
Inspired by the amazing LSF Climate Action Forum, our activist students started thinking of ways to make change in a bigger scale — a way to modify their community, and hopefully inspire other communities to do the same.
They decided to make a Motion with the City of New Westminster to request for them to support a 15-minute city plan and give people more options for moving around the City. This motion was backed by two City Council Members, Ms. Nakagawa and Ms. Henderson.
Their requests/suggestions are as follows:
• Increased and wider sidewalks around the city, including side roads, so that it is possible for people to walk easily from one side of the city to the other; this would be very important in terms of accessibility and helping people with wheelchairs.
• More benches and seating areas to encourage people to take breaks when they are walking and enjoy the public spaces we have
• More streetlights to make the City more safe and comfortable for pedestrians and bikers, not only in the areas that are close to the centre but actually connecting our City’s neighbourhoods through a walking corridor
• Improved bike lanes so they are safer, with physical separations between the bike lanes and the road
• Bike maps on every important intersection, so people know where the next bike lane is (through a physical map on the road or a QR code on the road)
• More bike racks and perhaps a bike rental system with cards that could be refilled like the bus system cards
• More community garden spaces so that people could grow their own vegetables and connect with nature and each other, including educational programs so people will learn how to garden
• More green spaces throughout the city, focusing on lower-income areas first
• Upgrade playgrounds around town to bigger, more active playgrounds, so kids can feel like being outside and playing, as well as add even more outdoor fitness equipment in parks and other public spaces to encourage healthy living
• An education campaign regarding 15-minute Cities and the changes required to make them happen
• More public washrooms so that residents and visitors to our City are able to stay out and about for longer periods of time, as well as more frequent cleaning of existing bathrooms
• Free Public WiFi, so citizens could walk around and feel confident that they are still connected, and make it easier for them to work or study remotely
• More opportunities and contests for Public Art around the City, which can add character to a city; by placing installations throughout the city, you can encourage residents to explore their neighbourhoods
• Incentives for local businesses, so they would open up in different parts of the city, creating more vibrant smaller areas around different neighbourhoods
• Advocate for the expansion of service for our bus system, increasing frequency and service area, which is a known concern for the City
• Continue advocating for free transit for youth up to 18 years old
• A plan to commit to resources to execute and maintain these changes
• In all of these requests, let there be a focus on improving lower-income neighbourhoods, making those safer, more walkable and more attractive
Reflection & Celebration
On the evening of June 12th, 2023, ten of our club members presented their motion for the City. After all delegations spoke, and with support from the Mayor of New Westminster, the 15-minute motion was voted on and passed, with a promise to implement all that we requested by 2030.
Our young Monkey Rebel activists have learned so much, not only about climate change but also about how the government works and how young voices matter.
We ask every school and youth group around Canada to rise and join forces with us! We are sharing all resources and videos on our website, including a motion template that any group can modify to implement something similar in their own cities. Please watch the raw video of our presentation to get ideas for your own motion. Let’s spread this change one city at a time!
The future is now!!!