Step by step: Getting children to walk to school

Metrolinx is an agency of the Government of Ontario, created in 2006 to improve the coordination and integration of all modes of transportation in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. Its mission is to champion, develop and implement an integrated transportation system for the region that enhances prosperity, sustainability and quality of life. Metrolinx launched The Big Move in 2008, a Regional Transportation Plan which included the vision that 60% of children in the region will walk or cycle to school by 2031.


The percentage of children walking to school in Canada has steadily declined over the past few decades and the percentage cycling has remained very low, while the percentage of children being driven to school has more than doubled. A broad spectrum of Ontario stakeholders has been working on active and sustainable school transportation (ASST) initiatives for many years, beginning in the mid-1990s. There is broad recognition that this is a shared societal issue that is owned by no one organization or government agency. However, its impacts are felt across the spectrum.


Integral Strategy™ was used to develop a Strategy Roadmap for province-wide coordination of active and sustainable school transportation. More than 30 key stakeholder organizations including provincial ministries, Metrolinx, municipalities, school boards, and non-government organizations participated. The Roadmap describes how organizations and communities can work individually and collectively to create healthier communities through more children and families walking and cycling to school.


The individual, local, regional and provincial impacts are broad and substantial. Once the Strategy Roadmap was complete, it was translated into French, and work continued to develop an implementation model. Next steps were defined based on the Action Pathways™ approach. Participants have commented on the progress being made because of working together collaboratively in contrast to limited progress previously made when everyone was working alone.