East hants Active Transportation Needs Assessment


The East Hants Active Transportation Needs Assessment is an effort to help the community prepare for an AT supportive future. Its major goal is to develop a thorough understanding of key active transportation barriers and opportunities and to reach this understanding as a community so that support is in place to make impactful changes when opportunities arise. To achieve this goal, community stakeholders, politicians and staff are engaged in a participatory, hands-on AT planning process.


Approach & Public Engagement
A Steering Committee of MEH Staff, local businesses, local schools and community groups were formed to advise the process. The needs assessment itself was conducted as a series of participatory walkability and bikeability audits. Each audit was performed in a priority location identified by the project Steering Committee. The audits were initiated as community events, led by CEU, where residents experienced a route as either a cyclist or pedestrian. Each participant "audited" their experience by answering a series of predetermined questions about the quality of the route. The end result was a community-based evaluation of key pieces of the potential AT network. CEU incorporated residents’ results into a professional evaluation of each route. Based on report results, CEU recommended priority projects that have the greatest opportunity for supporting AT in the East Hants Corridor Communities. Recommendations include preliminary design work for priority AT routes and other non-infrastructure based recommendations for supporting AT.


The objective of the AT Needs Assessment was to leave behind more than a series of recommendations, but to spark interest and engagement in AT issues among residents and politicians. The walkability and bikeability audits gave participants a chance to look at the issues as both planners and AT users. The experience was designed to be both enjoyable and educational, increasing the level of interest, knowledge, and support around AT in East Hants. The Steering Committee will also continue on beyond the life of the project. This project gives the Steering Committee an opportunity to initiate its involvement in local AT issues and provides East Hants with a higher level of capacity and a stronger political mandate for supporting AT in the future.