In celebration of Community Health and Wellbeing Week, which runs Monday, Sept. 30 to Friday, Oct. 4, the South Riverdale Community Health Centre (SRCHC) is celebrating on Oct. 1 the 10th anniversary of bike lanes along Dundas Street East from Kingston Road and Broadview Avenue.
“It’s a super popular route and that’s why we’re doing this event, there’s so many cyclists out there,” said Paul Young, a health promoter for the SRCHC.
“We thought it’d be great to thank them for using the bikes and take in how the community worked to get this thing in place.”
This year’s Community Health and Wellbeing Week theme is Shift the Conversation, which, according to Melissa Tapper, the coordinator of planning and communication at SRCHC, refers to the shift from a strictly medical perspective to looking at different factors that come into play to be healthy.
“It’s not just about prevention, but the determinants of health, like physical activity, housing, social support, employment all those factors that impact health,” Tapper said.
“That’s why we thought it’d be a good tie in with the bike lane and make it a focus.”
The week-long festivities will have 108 community-governed healthcare organizations across the province focussing on shifting the conversation toward the eight domains of wellbeing: education, community vitality, democratic engagement, environment, healthy populations, leisure and culture, living standards and time use.
“It’s more about highlighting a need for a comprehensive approach to improving the health of individuals, families and communities,” Tapper said.
In 1998, when a community meeting was held to discuss air quality in the area, which was a growing concern at the time, someone suggested the idea of creating a bike lane as a way to improve the air quality.
“The idea took off,” Young said.
At the time, a group, who called themselves Dundas-Everybody’s Access to Safe Travel (EAST), really liked the idea and began a journey that didn’t end until the fall of 2003 when the bike lanes were finally installed.
“It’s not just the cyclists who like it, there was a lot of positive feedback from pedestrians and parents who have kids who had to cross the street,” Young said.
But it wasn’t without protest. Community members who drove cars lost two lanes, one on each side of the road, for the bike lanes.
“That was a big deal for people wanting to get in and out of downtown by car and not interested in cycling,” Young said.
“But it’s much safer now because the distance to cross the lanes is less, the traffic is less and there’s a buffer between the sidewalk and the road, which is the bike lane.”
The SRCHC played a supportive role in getting the bike lanes installed by providing the space to book meetings, printed flyers and provided some technical expertise around the benefits of bike lanes. Today, it offers a bicycle repair clinic run by Young, which is open year-round for two hours a week for low-income community members, giving them a chance to learn about bicycle repairs, safety and maintenance.
The SRCHC is a community-based health centre that is a member of the Toronto Central Local Health Initiative Network. It offers a variety of programs from health and social services, programs for seniors and pregnant women. It also has community kitchens, language and parenting groups.
In addition to its bike lane celebration, which goes from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Oct. 1 at Carlaw Avenue and Dundas Street, the SRCHC will also have an open house with tours from 3 to 7 p.m. at its 955 Queen St. E. location.
“The community should come check out the programs or campaigns that are at work to improve income security,” Tapper said. “We want people to have the opportunity to see what we do and get involved.”