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Sustainable Transportation in Small and Rural Communities – AARP Skip to content

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Sustainable Transportation in Small and Rural Communities


By 2031, Canada predicts that its population of older adults age 65 and above will comprise one-fourth of its entire population. Overall, Canada is a highly urbanized country – with roughly 80 percent of its population living in urban areas. Many of these residents have access to a public transit system. However, the same cannot be said for residents living in rural and small communities, many of which are not well served by sustainable transportation options like public transportation or accessible walking and cycling paths. This report focuses on ways to provide rural and small communities in Canada with sustainable transportation options and examines the impact transportation has on the livability and vitality of all communities.

Key Points

As the population in Canada’s urban areas continues to expand, many services – health and social services, employment, shopping and retail areas, and educational institutions – will be centralized to better serve these higher density areas. This shift will result in less than equitable access to such services by residents in small or rural communities, causing a significant issue for older adults living in rural and small communities. This report highlights sustainable transportation options that have been implemented in certain areas of Canada and beyond that may improve the vitality of small and rural communities.

Other report highlights include:

  • The District of Saanich, British Columbia is a great example of a community that has improved its active transportation infrastructure. Since 1993, this district has constructed more than 50 km of on-road cycling infrastructure and pedestrian linkages have been improved by constructing new sidewalks and establishing a multi-use trail system.
  • Transit-oriented development can significantly help smaller communities reduce the costs associated with providing sustainable transportation.
  • Developing sustainable transportation options in small and rural communities often requires a broader range of stakeholders than in larger, urban communities. Key stakeholders can include private transportation companies, health and social service organizations, employers, churches, chambers of commerce, hotels and other tourism industries, and private citizens.

How to Use

Community planners and local governments can use this report to gain an understanding of the obstacles facing many rural parts of Canada related to sustainable transportation options. The brief case studies featured in this report should be used by planners and local officials to see how certain areas have planned to accommodate the needs of rural residents.

View Web Site: Sustainable Transportation in Small and Rural Communities

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