First Car Free Sunday goes Sept. 25

Late-September is World Car Free Day — a public people-centered celebration characterized by free family-oriented activities for all to enjoy.

Thousands of people will take to the streets in cities around the globe in late September to celebrate the annual World Car Free Day — a public people-centered celebration characterized by free family-oriented activities for all to enjoy.

(View details of Vancouver’s event at www.carfreevancouver.org.)

The local non-profit society Imagine Comox Valley, known for presenting the first series of TedX events in the Comox Valley, is spearheading the first Car Free Sunday for the Comox Valley.

It will occur Sept. 25, from 1 to 5 p.m. along carefully selected routes in Cumberland and Courtenay.

“To say we’re excited for this event is an understatement,” says Imagine Comox Valley co-founder Andrew Gower. “Interest for the event has been overwhelming and has come from all corners of this community — schools, arts and entertainment, sports clubs, public service groups, members of the business community and individual citizens. These Car Free Days are celebrated all around the world!”

“They’re not so much about banning cars, as attempting to provide opportunities for the public to experience streets in a creative, non-motorized way. It may not be something we all think about, but streets make up the single largest public space in most communities and Car Free Days provide a brief opportunity to share the streets with other uses and other users.”

Cumberland, Courtenay and Comox councils approved routes within their communities, provided stringent guidelines were met, although the Comox event was cancelled when downtown businesspeople objected.

“Car Free Days have proven to be quite popular in a number of other communities,” says Nancy Hofer, environmental planner with the City of Courtenay. “I think most people enjoy them for the activities and social interaction, but if the event inspires people to not use a car for some of their trips, then that is consistent with the Comox Valley’s greenhouse gas reduction goals.”

A key element to nearly all Car Free Days is that they are grassroots-organized by and for the public. Traffic management and activities along the Comox Valley routes will be staffed mostly by volunteers.

“We’ve had over 100 volunteers sign up for the event so far. We’re looking for another hundred,” says David Frisch, volunteer co-ordinator. “Basically anything you can think of that is people-oriented and legal.

“We’ve heard proposals for children’s games, neighborhood parties, yard sales, street theatre, street hockey, music and organized fitness activities. If you have ideas and want to get involved, we want to hear from you! You can easily reach us through our website.

To sign up to volunteer for the First Ever Comox Valley Car Free Sunday, visit www.imaginecomoxvalley.ca. More information on the routes and details of the day will be posted on the website as they’re made available, along with informational posters and flyers.

If you are interested in running an activity such as a free yoga class, aerobics, cooking class or scooter rodeo, contact Imagine Comox Valley and check the website for the time slots and venues available. Time slots at each venue will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis and this event will provide businesses and organizations with an excellent opportunity to showcase their services.

— Imagine Comox Valley

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