Avon Region Active Transportation Plan Final Report
“Active Avon” is an active transportation plan designed to improve options for safe and convenient non-motorized transportation across the Avon Region over the next eight years. The collaboration between the region’s three municipalities - the Municipality of West Hants, the Town of Windsor, and the former Town of Hantsport - sets a unique precedent for a regional approach to active transportation. It is the first time that both urban and rural Nova Scotian municipalities have come together to forge an active transportation strategy spanning beyond the boundaries of individual municipalities.
The District of the Municipality of West Hants covers 124,200 hectares of land. Within the Municipality, the Avon River empties into the Minas Basin where the world’s highest tides rise and fall along 160 kilometers of shoreline and the banks of tidal rivers. Thirty kilometers of dykes protect 2,436 hectares of land. A variety of lakes and rivers provide opportunities for swimming, canoeing, kayaking, fishing and boating. There are two Provincial Parks (Smileys and Falls Lake), two Park Reserves (Cheverie Salt Marsh and St. Croix), wilderness areas, 12% protected lands (as identified by Environment NS,) and Crown land within the Municipality.
Citizens of the Municipality use parks and open space for personal and organized recreation, to connect with people, and to enjoy nature. The Municipality currently owns and/or manages 73 parcels of parks and open space land, totaling 492.5 acres. Of those 73, 43 parcels are used by citizens for recreational purposes. Currently 21 sites are developed and maintained as recreation sites: Dr. Silas Rand Park, Shamrock Ball Field, Chittick Park, John Wiley Walkway, Fundy Centennial Park, Foundry Field, McDade Park, Hantsport Riverbank Cemetery, Prince Street Path, Eldridge Road Recreation Site, Falmouth Mini Park & Causeway Trail, Falmouth Boat Launch, Irishmans Road Recreation Site, St. Croix Recreation Site, Brooklyn Fire Hall Trail, Cheverie Salt Marsh Restoration Trail, Kempt Quarry Recreation Site, Hobarts Beach, Upper Burlington Planters Trail, Avondale Wharf & Waterfront, and Armstrong Lake. Many of these sites have trails, which have been listed below.
In creating an Active Living Strategy, West Hants joined municipalities around the province that have partnered with the Communities Culture and Heritage Department through the Municipal Physical Activity Leadership (MPAL) program to develop an action plan to get people moving. The Strategy outlines the steps to be taken to provide communities and residents with the opportunities and knowledge needed to participate in more physical activities more often. This work will be undertaken with a collaborative and holistic approach, uniting across municipal departments, reaching out to the community, and partnering with other health and wellness sectors (both public and private). While all strategies share the common goal of increased physical activity, each one identifies actions specific to their own municipality.
In July 2013, West Hants Council approved the West Hants Active Living Strategy 2013-2016. This document was a plan of action to support active living in the Municipality. A particular focus for the Active Communities Programmer between 2013-2016 was on trail development and active transportation opportunities. Considerable progress was achieved in the Active Transportation and Parks and Open Space portfolios, including a trails plan for Irishmans Road, an Inventory of West Hants Trails, and a strategic plan (Active Living Strategy 2013-2016) with prioritized opportunities to improve access and education of our region’s assets.
In 2016, the province and West Hants undertook a review of the Active Living Strategy 2013-2016 to update and create an Action Plan for the next five years. During the review, the key findings and conclusions from the West Hants research and public consultations were succinctly summarized by the following guiding statement:
“More citizens may be engaged by improving accessibility of community-based physical activity opportunities by offering flexible, non-competitive, and family-friendly activities.”
To clearly plan for change on all levels of the socio-ecological model, an action plan was been developed to guide the work of physical activity promotion in West Hants that will be facilitated by the Active Communities Programmer in collaboration with internal and external partners.
The development of trails has positive effects on many aspects of communities including increasing individuals’ access to transportation choices, fostering a local economy and tourism industry and promoting active lifestyles and healthy living.
In 2013, the West Hants Trails Plan was created to inventory eighteen trail sites across the Municipality. The plan also included ideas for how West Hants could invest and develop these sites in order to ensure maximum use and community benefit. The vision for trails outlined in this plan is “A network of trails across West Hants is maintained and promoted by a variety of community individuals, organizations and groups. Residents of all ages use and enjoy the trails for a variety of physical activities including Active Transportation.”