Local urban planner David Stinson led 10 residents on the third and final Sustainable Orillia City Walk of 2022 Saturday.
The walk was intended to give people a different experience and perspective on urban planning in the community. The walk was held in west Orillia, which Stinson believes is an example of sprawl.
“All of this was built around the automobile and how far you can drive,” he said. “A good neighbourhood is built on how far you can walk.”
Stinson says the walks help push the “sustainability agenda” and make community members think differently.
“These walks have been very well attended,” he said. “People really seem to be interested, which makes me pleasantly surprised.”
The walks have been attended by former urban planners, politicians, and members of the media.
“It’s their town, it’s their home, and this is where these people live,” he said. “People should enjoy their town, be proud of their town, and it should also be a place that promotes their health and well-being.”
During the walk, Stinson pointed out what he says makes west Orillia a difficult place to live in, walk in, and sustain.
“People are learning the connection between the sustainable ideals and the urban fabric,” he said.
Erin Maloughney, who participated in the walk Saturday, moved to Orillia little more than a month ago.
“I’m here today because I want to know more about where I live,” she said. “This is an informative outdoor adventure.”
She says the walk taught her more about Orillia’s history and what needs to be done in the future.
“The City of Orillia is beautiful and growing,” she said. “It wants to keep a lot of its charm, so its people need to be more informed and aware of what is going on with sprawl.”
Maloughney moved to Orillia from Toronto, which has her concerned with sprawl.
“I’m coming from other places where I’ve seen what it can do,” she said. “Now, being of a more mature age, I can see what people have done in the past and what maybe should be embraced in the future.”
David Parks, who also participated in Saturday’s walk, was an urban planner with the County of Simcoe for 10 years and in the industry for 40 years.
“I’m still interested in my community,” he said. “I’m probably going to do some private consulting as I move forward from my public life.”
Parks has lived in Orillia for 45 years. He worked for the City of Orillia, the Township of Severn and the District of Muskoka. He was pleased with the interest shown in the walk.
“It educates you and gets you involved in the community,” he said. “What is important to you will probably be important to your neighbours and the community in general.”
Parks encourages people to participate in the next walk, which will likely be held in the spring.
“Listen and educate yourself,” he said. “You may agree or disagree with some of the stuff, but the better informed you are, the better decision making is out there.”
Stinson looks forward to hosting the next walk.
“I enjoy talking about this sort of stuff,” he said. “If the people are getting something out of it and it makes them think, it’s great and I feel the day has been a success.”