Fruitvale strives to include all

I recently had the opportunity to listen to an exciting and inspirational speaker during a sustainability conference I was able to attend, on behalf of the Village of Fruitvale.

Gil Penalosa is internationally renowned livable city advisor and social marketing strategist.

Gil is passionate about vibrant and healthy communities. Hoping to improve the quality of life for all residents, he promotes walking and cycling as well as the creation and use of parks and trails.

The fundamentals of Gil’s 8-80 philosophy are as follows:

– To become an influential advocate for people-oriented cities.

– To promote safe infrastructure for pedestrians and cyclists, and increased investment in greenways, trails, parks and other public spaces. These can include workshops, presentations and events.

– To work at the community level to improve quality of life for all regardless of gender, age, socioeconomic, or ethnic background.

– To promote and develop partnerships with non-profit and/or for-profit organizations, public or private, in activities.

The rules of 8-80 are simple. These rules can be applied to any community no matter your size, big or small. Steps are as follows

Step 1:

Think of a child that you love and care for who is around eight years of age. This could be your child, grandchild, sister, brother, cousin etcetera.

Step 2:

Think of an adult, about 80 years of age who you love and care for. This could be a parent, grandparent, friend, etc.

Step 3:

Ask yourself: Would you send that eight-year-old along with the 80-year-old on a walk, or a bike ride on that infrastructure? If you would, then it is safe enough, if you would not, then it is not safe enough.

This rule may seem simple but it holds many implications. Interestingly, when you are forced to think of the ability of most cycling and pedestrian infrastructure to safely serve all citizens, they often fail.

Through the process of developing our official community plan, Fruitvale village council is working hard together to enhance our communities using some of Gil’s theories.

I am fortunate to work with a diverse council that can work together to solve problems.

As a council, we are attempting to ensure that community events are intergenerational, by involving schools, seniors, and families, all the while considering accessibility issues that may arise.

Fruitvale as a small town has limited ability to grow or expand but we do have the opportunity to enhance the lifestyles as the Heart of the Beaver Valley.

Ideas have been flowing steadily; from community gardens, walking trails, bike paths to dog parks.

Some may be simple and others are more of a long-term projects, but know that any decision will take into consideration the simple 8-80 rules.

Of course a lot of this could not be possible without the support and partnerships of our non-profits and service clubs, like The Beaver Valley Blooming Society, Lions, Rotary, Beaver Valley May Days Society, Community Chest, Fruitvale firefighters, Historical Society, Search and Rescue to name a few and our local businesses.

To them we offer our heartfelt gratitude and look forward to future partnerships.

Tabatha Webber is a Fruitvale councillor. A politician from Rossland will write next week.