Structural changes proposed at the Rendez-vous with viable communities

Structural changes proposed at the Rendez-vous des collectivités viable

A cyclist in Montreal.

Quebec cities will have to work twice as hard and impose “structuring changes” to tackle climate change, according to various experts who are taking part today in the 6th edition of the Viable Communities Rendez-vous.

Subway interviewed various attendees of the event to learn about the solutions they offer. The menu is huge. Courses of action for the transitions of cities in terms of housing and transport will be put forward in particular by a group of experts.

“The changes must be fundamental. We are no longer talking about just making a little effort, but a transition to something different. We have to make structuring choices, ”says the general manager of Vivre en ville, Christian Savard.


Sustainable mobility is essential. It must be accessible to all, safe and effective, believes the author of the influential “Avoid-Transfer-Improve” approach, Holger Dalkmann, at Rendez-vous communities viable. Adopting it means reducing the consumption of fossil fuels and the emission of greenhouse gases.

This approach aims to restrict motorized travel and travel times, to increase the use of less energy-intensive modes of transport such as cycling and to improve the energy efficiency of vehicles by using electrification or renewable energies.

There must be offers of alternative modes of transport as well as spaces where you can walk and cycle. It also reduces parking areas, which can be used to create new public spaces where you can sit, drink a coffee or leave your bike.

Holger Dalkmann

< p>He cites the examples of London, England, which has created city-wide pedestrian zones, and Zambia, which allocates 5% of national investment to pedestrian infrastructure.

The “Avoid-Transfer-Improve” approach is also at the center of the Quebec government’s “Sustainable Mobility Policy”. It has also been adopted by the United Nations Environment Program and the partnership on sustainable and low-carbon transport.

Accessibility is also fundamental. Mr. Savard explains that we can reduce our ecological footprint by getting closer to essential services and the workplace. However, rising house prices may force us to make choices that do not reduce our footprint.

Acting collectively

Personal and collective needs must be mutually reinforcing, according to Mr. Savard. Thus, citizens and governments both have their part to play.  

On the one hand, collective decisions must support people's desire to reduce their environmental footprint. City and government administrations could then create more bike lanes and public transit services, as well as make housing more affordable. 

On the other hand, Mr. Savard specifies that it is also up to citizens to express their wishes. “Once these two elements are aligned, we fall into a virtuous circle,” he thinks. 

The appearance of BIXI in Montreal has generated strong individual demand, for example. The population has gradually demanded cycle lanes and now more cyclists are riding in the city.

Replicating the solutions

Big city solutions are applicable to smaller communities, according to former Toronto mayor and creator of C40 Cities, David Miller, present at the Rendez-vous communities viable. Cities can act without waiting for other levels of government.

He quotes the inspiring and important planning of the city of Copenhagen in Denmark, against climate change. 

It uses in particular the district heating system which heats the whole homes in the city and the construction of energy-efficient buildings through the use of solar panels, for example.

Since the hazards are similar when it comes to transportation, housing and planning from a climate change perspective, then the solutions are the same, according to Miller.

Taking into account the specific realities, it is a question of thinking about the same systems. He thinks in particular of active and autonomous means of transport or the reduction of urban sprawl. 

If smaller cities attract people to the center instead of building plots, then they become more pleasant, more economically attractive and better for the environment.

David Miller

He calls for reducing urban sprawl, which he contrasts with the quarter-hour city model, where all essential services are within 15 minutes on foot or by bike. This choice belongs to the cities, according to him.

To do this, it is necessary that the mayors and mayoresses resort to the law. Toronto is using the Urban Planning Act to create green buildings.

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