Peace and Environment News, July–August 2012
by Mike Buckthought
During Environment Week (June 3–9), over 25,500 people across Canada joined the 2012 Commuter Challenge. The annual event encourages everyone to use sustainable modes of transportation such as walking, cycling, public transit and telecommuting. By taking part in the Challenge, participants reduced greenhouse gas emissions by over 440 tonnes of carbon dioxide during the week.
In Ottawa-Gatineau, a total of 1,500 people joined the Commuter Challenge. Over 40 workplaces were represented, ranging from small non-profit organizations to large federal government departments.
The Commuter Challenge included an environment-friendly competition between workplaces, to see which organizations had the highest rates of participation.
In Ottawa-Gatineau, the winning organizations were: the Sierra Youth Coalition (80% participation; workplaces with fewer than 50 employees), CUSO International (43% participation; 50–100 employees), Mountain Equipment Co-op (39% participation; 100–150 employees), Canadian Museum of Nature (32% participation; 150–200 employees), Fairmont Château Laurier (13% participation; 200–1,000 employees), Export Development Corporation (12% participation; 1,000–2,000 employees), and Statistics Canada (16% participation; workplaces with more than 2,000 employees).
The event also included an environment-friendly competition between communities, to see which cities and towns had the highest rates of participation. Calgary was the winning community among the cities with populations greater than one million. In Calgary, a total of 6,770 people used sustainable modes of transportation such as the C-Train, cycling and walking to get to work.
Another winning city was Winnipeg (cities with a population over 500,000). For the ninth year, it was the leading city in its population category. The Province of Manitoba and City of Winnipeg have been strong supporters of the Commuter Challenge, and this has translated into high participation rates in the province. Over 5,200 Winnipeggers joined the event this year.
The other winning communities were: Halifax (population over 250,000), Kingston, Ontario (population over 100,000), Saint John, New Brunswick (population over 50,000), North Vancouver, BC (population over 25,000), Thompson, Manitoba (population over 10,000), Banff, Alberta (population over 5,000), and Wabowden, Manitoba (population under 5,000).
Commuter Challenge 2012 was organized by non-profit organizations and municipalities across the country, including the Sustainable Alberta Association, Green Action Centre, Better Environmentally Sound Transportation, Clean Nova Scotia, City of Kingston and Region of Waterloo.
To view the results of the Commuter Challenge, visit commuterchallenge.ca. The 2013 Commuter Challenge will take place during Environment Week, June 2–8, 2013.
Mike Buckthought is a car-free commuter, and founder of the Commuter Challenge.
Published in the Peace and Environment News, Volume 27, Number 3, July–August 2012, page 3.