Rise of the 15 minute district

by | Nov 7, 2022 | News

With tuition increasing, gas prices on the rise, and the overall cost of living growing constantly; saving time and money should be desirable for every student. The 15 minute district may be the solution to many of these problems. 

These new urban districts are made up of smaller neighbourhoods where essential amenities should be accessible with a 15-minute journey by walking or biking. This idea is becoming increasingly popular in major cities such as Vancouver and Portland, and now local city planners believe it’s time for Edmonton to adopt this beneficial way of life. 

15-minute communities are all about safe, efficient, and reliable transportation within neighbourhoods. In order to navigate communities, proper infrastructure is needed. Many NAIT students spend time walking, biking, bussing or a combination of these transportation methods to get to and from school every day. Instead of bringing students and workers into frustrating congested traffic and therefore contributing to it, the 15-minute approach provides day-to-day needs to a community so nobody has to spend more than 15 minutes commuting to shop, eat, drink, learn, recreate, convene, worship, heal, or sleep. 

Not only do these walkable 15-minute districts cut down on commute times, they also make neighbourhoods much safer. Less personal vehicles on the streets directly equates to fewer vehicle deaths. Increasing walkability also promotes a healthier active lifestyle and better quality of life for community residents. 

The neighbourhoods that surround NAIT of McCauley, Downtown and Alberta Avenue are the most walkable neighbourhoods with a walk score of 89, 86 and 80 respectively. Walk score is a calculated number based on walking routes to nearby amenities and general pedestrian friendliness. This puts NAIT right in a prime spot for walking surrounded by many local restaurants and businesses.  

 Ward Métis City Councillor Ashley Salvador has been very vocal in her support of these kinds of communities in our city and is a strong advocate for this form of development. Salvador believes that “at the end of the day, we have to be more efficient with existing city services and infrastructure by focusing on improving and building up existing areas. 15-minute communities are a win-win for residents and the city as a whole.” 

  But how does this affect NAIT students? By creating vibrant communities and supporting local employment opportunities, students may find themselves with job opportunities closer than they thought possible. Potential jobs increase while commute time decreases. Better transit and bike paths will make getting to classes faster and easier than ever before, saving students’ precious time and money. 

  The city plans to finalize district plans and present proposed plans at a public hearing by May 2023. To get involved and share your thoughts on 15-minute districts the city of Edmonton district planning committee will be holding its second online “fostering 15-minute communities”  workshop at 9 a.m. on Saturday, November 26 open to all members of the public to share their thoughts and help build our communities around us. 

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