People in rural, remote and Indigenous communities will benefit from safer roads through the Province’s Vision Zero grant program.
Vision Zero provides total funding of up to $575,000 to organizations to support local road safety improvements, with organizations receiving up to $20,000 per project.
“A healthy community is one that offers opportunities for physical fitness, recreation and safety for all residents,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “That’s why we are aware of the challenges associated with vehicle traffic, including access to sidewalks and pathways, and are making an effort to improve visibility and mobility access to neighbourhoods in communities provincewide. I’m proud to see that 73% of organizations that applied for a Vision Zero grant were approved, and for Indigenous communities that applied for a grant, 100% of applicants were approved.”
Vision Zero grants are provided by the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure. Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) contributed $84,000.
The funding was provided through the regional health authorities to local governments, Indigenous governments and non-government organizations, like school districts and road safety advocacy groups, to help them plan projects that will directly improve the safety of roads in their communities.
This year, the 37 approved projects are spread throughout every health authority. Of these, 16 are from and in Indigenous communities. Projects can include improvements such as crosswalk infrastructure, closed streets, traffic calming, speed limit reduction pilots, walk signals that give a head start to pedestrians, speed reader boards, mixed use paths, better lighting and signage, and road safety planning.
“Increasing the accessibility to active transportation networks and other green modes of transportation is an important part of B.C.’s Recovery Plan that will help us come back from the pandemic stronger,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. “These investments will support road safety improvements and help to create more safe options for walking and cycling that improve travel, particularly for people in rural, remote and Indigenous communities.”
Road safety is an established priority of government. Road injuries and deaths are a significant cause of health-care system usage and affect patient and health-system capacity. Each year, these incidents result in $300 million in direct health-care costs.
This is the first year Vision Zero grant funding has been provided widely to all health authorities. In the past, grant funding under the Vision Zero program was provided by Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health, and implemented in those two authorities in at least one previous fiscal year.
“Thanks to the VCH Vision Zero grant program, in 2019, the Village of Pemberton, in partnership with the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, was able to install a crosswalk with flashing beacons on Pemberton Portage Road adjacent to Signal Hill Elementary school,” said Mike Richman, mayor of Pemberton. “This project helps to reduce speed on one of Pemberton’s main thoroughfares, helping to ensure safe passage for seniors, children and families, and better facilitating active transportation within our community.”
By implementing Vision Zero, the Province is working toward making British Columbians better off by preventing road injuries or reducing their severity. This will result in:
- helping address the disproportionate number of traffic injuries faced by vulnerable communities and in Indigenous communities;
- reducing health-care system usage, lowering health-care costs and improving health-system capacity by freeing up health-care space when injuries are prevented;
- building capacity in the public health system in an area of injury that represents one of the two largest sources of trauma presented at British Columbia emergency departments; and
- supporting provincial climate change efforts by shifting people to lower carbon forms of transport, like walking, cycling and micro-mobility (e.g., e-scooters, e-bikes) and by taking specific steps to make these modes safer and more attractive.
All regional health authorities and the First Nations Health Authority fully support and endorse the expansion of Vision Zero throughout the province, as well as this specific initiative. They have been overseeing this program through a Vision Zero working group and implementation sub-committee. Regional health authorities reviewed applications and provided evidence-based public health input on the planned actions.
- Vision Zero in road safety is an international best practice that originated in the Netherlands and Sweden in the 1990s to eliminate deaths and serious injuries from road transport.
- The international organization, DEKRA, has tracked cities with populations of 50,000 and more around the globe that have achieved this goal in at least one calendar year.
- Vision Zero is built on safe system theory, which involves road design, community planning, regulation of motor vehicles, speeds, education and awareness.
Visit the Vision Zero Challenge web page for more details on this worldwide program: https://visionzerochallenge.org/vision-zero?locale=en
For more information about the grant applicants, visit: https://injuryresearch.bc.ca/vision-zero-grant-program-successful-applicants/
A backgrounder with B.C. health authorities and organizations receiving funding is available online: https://news.gov.bc.ca/files/Vision_Zero_Backgrounder.pdf