The Rural Development Network (RDN) and the Association for Life-Wide Living of Alberta (ALL of Alberta) were awarded $40,000 from the Alberta Real Estate Foundation (AREF) to pilot a rural transportation project in the Battle River region that could be adapted for the rest of the province.
The partnership marks the start of a year-long project to improve rural transportation options in the Battle River region.
The project: “Rural Transportation: Finding Better Solutions for 2021 and Beyond” will reconnect stakeholders and revive long-standing discussions to create better rural transportation options throughout the province.
This project will work with the Battle River region to: engage stakeholders by gathering issues/concerns on local transportation issues; synthesize research and gathered findings to create stories and narratives to be used to improve transportation perceptions, understanding and actions; review existing initiatives in Alberta and other provinces to create a feasible plan for the region; and create project case studies to be replicated in other rural communities.
Public transportation presents unique challenges for rural communities at all times, and especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, when rural people must travel long distances for assessment, care and vaccinations.
“Access to transportation is the most common barrier to living in a small community, for those who don’t have access to a private vehicle. Rural Alberta needs to work together to find new, sustainable solutions to ensure our rural communities continue to grow and thrive,” said RDN Executive Director Dee Ann Benard.
At a time when many Canadians are rethinking their urban bases, and evolving perceptions of remote work are gaining more traction, transportation and better broadband connectivity are paramount for rural communities to capitalize on the dawn of a renewed ruralization movement.
“People in communities across Battle River Region have been outspoken about their rural transportation needs; especially after Greyhound closed services across the region,” says Jane Ross, President of ALL.
“By listening to what people were saying, a Rural Transportation Working Group was started in 2015 to explore needs and bring people together for Rural Transportation Information Days in 2016 and 2018”.
“While we have identified numerous transit facilities in communities across the region, most if not all existing initiatives are struggling. Our research affirms the need for better rural transportation solutions for 2021 and beyond. The AREF-RDN-ALL collaboration is committed to solutions that are appropriate, flexible and sustainable.”