LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Freedom increases within ‘15-minute city’
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I was dismayed to learn there is so much disinformation and misinformation out there about the “15-minute city” concept.
The 15-minute city is an urban planning concept that envisions neighbourhoods throughout the city in which most necessities and services such as work, shopping, education, health care and leisure can be easily reached by a 15-minute walk or bike ride.
So, why is this a good idea? Why is this something to aspire to? Just think for a minute. Whenever we have to go to the grocery store, or to the health clinic, or our kids have to get to school, how many times do we say, “I wish the grocery store, or the clinic or the school were further away so I could drive for half an hour.”
Our life would be better if these services were within walking or cycling distance. The “15-minute city” is just a common-sense way to make life simpler.
How would it make life simpler and/or better? You could leave your car at home and do most of your errands by foot or bike. This is better for our health and better for the air we all breathe. Exercise improves our mental and physical health.
Being out and about in your neighbourhood without being confined to your car means you may get to meet your neighbours, which improves not just your life but your neighbour’s life too. Fewer cars on the streets would mean the streets would not need repairs as often.
This concept is taking shape in cities other than Canada. Melbourne, Australia, Portland, Ore., in the U.S., and most notably Paris, France, to name a few. It is being talked about in Canada, but nowhere has it been implemented.
Let me dispel a couple other notions that are causing concern. Nowhere in the 15-minute city concept is it stated that there should be a hospital in every quadrant of the city. Hospitals are under provincial jurisdiction, not city. This concept is not about limiting people to their section of the city. If you want to go to the grocery store on the other side of the city, you still have that choice.
In a city such as Brandon, a cold, winter city on the Canadian Prairies, there is a limited season for walking and cycling. Sure, there are a few hardy souls who are courageous enough to brave the wind and cold to walk and cycle throughout the year, but most of us can’t or won’t, and that’s OK! True freedom is having choices.
If our city can be set up so that most of us live within 15 minutes of the essentials we need to survive, we will have more freedom, not less.