BEPPLE – The 15-minute city aims at easy access to services for everyone
LIVING IN A 15-MINUTE CITY sounds like a great place to live to me. The concept of a 15-minute city is that everything one needs for regular life is available within a 15 minute walk, cycle or wheelchair. Not by transit or by vehicle.
The idea was adopted by Paris mayor Hildalgo and taken up by Portland, Barcelona and Melbourne. Now the City of Edmonton wants to become a 15-minute city.
The term “15-minute city” is simply a way of saying within a city, people should have amenities close to where they live, and shouldn’t need to take trips by car to get basics of life like milk, a prescription, or even going to a restaurant.
And here in Kamloops, many already live in a 15-minute city. Anyone who lives in the Downtown, Westend or Sagebrush neighborhoods are within 15 minutes of grocery shops and other businesses. Those who live on the North Shore, from the bridge north to 8th and Fortune have each access to restaurants, drug stores, and insurance brokers.
Similarly, people living within a few kilometers of shops at Columbia and Summit, and shopping areas in Brocklehurst, Valleyview, Dufferin and Dallas live in a 15-minute city. Even in the far reaches of Westsyde, many are within a 15 minute walk or roll to a hardware store, liquor store and a swimming pool.
For many people, a 15-minute city is a more livable city. It can be especially important for older people. Here in Kamloops, 27% of people are older than 60. As people age, fewer and fewer drive.
A Statistics Canada report shows that while 85% of people 65 years old have a driver’s license, by 85 years old, only 45% have one. Living in a 15-minute city allows people without a vehicle to keep living an independent life.
Certainly people who can may still choose to drive, but a 15-minute city makes it easier to get through daily life for many people.
The City of Kamloops official community plan, which supports more multi-family housing around shopping areas such as Brocklehurst, Westsyde and Valleyview supports people having the option of living in a 15-minute neighborhood.
With all the benefits of a 15-minute city, first and foremost making it easier for seniors and others to stay independent, I was not surprised when two people wanted to talk to me about 15-minute cities at the recent budget meeting.
They asked me whether the City of Kamloops was a 15-minute city. I explained the City had done a lot that supports the idea through the official community plan but hadn’t adopted it officially.
Then the conversation went in a direction I hadn’t expected. The pair went on to say that 15-minute city was a concept for restricting people’s freedom. They were opposed to any idea around making Kamloops a 15-minute city. They felt it would force people to stay in a small neighborhood of the city.
After our conversation, a brief internet search led me to multiple articles. Two weeks ago in Edmonton, people were protesting against that city becoming a 15-minute city. Vice magazine reports that conspiracy theorists consider walkable, 15-minute cities to be open air prisons.
How making it easier to walk to a grocery story could be warped to the point people are willing to protest in the dead of winter in Edmonton is baffling to me. I’m equally baffled how people believe making a neighborhood more accessible for seniors equates to it to creating a prison.
Kamloops already has many 15-minute neighborhoods. Many people choose to live in those areas specifically so they can easily access the things they need for regular life. As more and more of us age, we will need more 15-minute neighborhoods, not fewer. I think the majority in Kamloops agree.
Nancy Bepple is a Kamloops City councillor with a strong interest in community building projects.
Neighbourhood accessibility. Cities used to have this – Some areas of Kamloops do. Dallas for example has the grocery store and other amenities also Valleyview, Brock, Westsyde and Aberdeen. Not really a new concept just a new name.
People can get there however they please or are able.
The person who commented on the snowy times is quite right. The city needs to do more about clearing snow. It may mean more $$ for snow removal but it would make accessing businesses more readily
and safely no matter how you get there. Save $ on medical bills from people falling as they try to walk places.
People need to also take into account the price of gas. Is it really worth saving a $ on lettuce if you are driving from Brock to Sahali.
And lets not forget about folks who are disabled and cannot walk or bike the 15 minutes to services. Add to that the ever growing street population that make if very unsafe to be walking in Kamloops as well as the poor condition or lack of sidewalks and 15 minutes may as well be forever. Where I live, trying to walk along Fortune Dr. to the mall is difficult to say the least. If you are not being showered by water from the puddles or smothered in dust then you risk being hit by drivers who are not paying attention to what they are doing or you are tripping on the badly worn sidewalks or trash. Alternative routes are just as dicey. Another vote for “how about we fix the stuff we have instead of spending on wants not needs”.
Except for a few sections our city is far from being a fifteen minutes city. Reaching our bush hospital for example is far from being fifteen minutes (or reachable other than by motor vehicle) for 99% of the population. And other health care providers, scattered without planning throughout are farm from being convenient. The sad part is they are officially talking about sustainability but in practice they are far from it…they being city officials and local politicians. And in the winter months things turn for the worse with inaccessible sidewalks despite many calls to protect accessibility.