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November 6, 2006
Toronto named as host of international walking conference -- Walk 21
  
The City of Toronto has been selected to host Walk 21, a major international conference that addresses issues relating to walking and pedestrian environments, and livable communities. Toronto Walk 21 2007 will take place from October 1-4, 2007 and is expected to attract more than 400 delegates from around the world.

Green Communities Canada -- a national umbrella organization that is actively involved in health and environment issues -- will partner with the City to host the international walking conference.

“Toronto, with its Pedestrian Charter, has an excellent reputation as a walkable city and we look forward to this opportunity to showcase the city and our neighbourhoods to the delegates who attend this conference,” said Gary Welsh, General Manager, Transportation Services.

This is the eighth year for the event and the second time that it has been held in North America. The conference’s theme is “putting pedestrians first” and will focus on the importance of walking in urban, suburban and rural communities. It will also provide an opportunity to discuss various walking issues in an international forum. Delegates will include leaders in government, academia, private sector, and community and non-government organizations.

Conference attendees will have a unique opportunity to explore and analyze Toronto from a pedestrian’s perspective. The conference will also highlight many of the best practices in use in other areas of the world and identify the need for future research.

Backgrounder

The first International Walk 21 Conference was organized in London in 2000 by members of the Access Company, in partnership with Living Streets, the UK Government, and supported by a grant from the European Union. The Walk 21 vision is: “To support, encourage and inspire professionals to evolve the best policies and implement the best initiatives, which create and promote environments where people choose to walk as an indicator of liveable communities.”

Walk 21 conferences have since been held in Perth, Western Australia; San Sebastian, Spain; Portland, Oregon; Copenhagen, Denmark; and Zurich, Switzerland. The City of Melbourne, Australia hosted the conference in 2006.

Each conference has been unique to showcase the strengths of the host country and demonstrate best practices. In Portland, the American government was keen to combine the event with an advocacy meeting that ensured the Surgeon General attended and spoke to support the conference. In Spain, the government of San Sebastian dedicated a team of planners to support the conference, and the mayor personally invited and involved the mayors of 15 other cities from around Spain in the program. In London, the central government included representatives of every continent in the conference, resulting in a number of ambassadors attending and supporting the event.

Over 1,000 delegates attended the annual Walk 21 conference between 2000 and 2005. Hundreds more travelled to Melbourne for this year’s conference, and over 400 delegates are expected to attend Toronto Walk 21 2007.

Some of the benefits associated with past conferences include:
• creating partnerships with other countries’ policy makers, researchers and practitioners
• supporting, encouraging and inspiring professionals to develop policies and initiatives
• promoting and advancing ongoing debate around walking issues through the conference theme
• influencing areas of further research, practice and promotion
• participating in a popular, tried and tested successful forum that attracts international experts, papers and ideas from around the world

For more information about the event, visit http://www.toronto.ca/walk21.

Media contact:
Steve Johnston, Sr. Communications Co-ordinator, 416-392-4391


 

 

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