Interested in finding out Mayor Jonathan Cote’s favourite walk around town. Want to enjoy a five-kilometre walk that’s accompanied by ambient sounds of the city and music? How about exploring 12th Street, Queen’s Park or the Agnes Street greenway?
If so, you’re in luck, as these and other self-guided walks are featured in this year’s Jane’s Walk event.
Mary Wilson, who founded the Jane’s Walk events in New West in 2013, said it would have been easy for organizers to say “we can’t do Jane’s Walk because of COVID” but they decided to see what they could do to make it happen in 2021. Because volunteer-led walks aren’t allowed because of COVID-19 restrictions, this year’s event will feature a series of self-led walks.
“We’ve got a real mix,” she said. “I wish we could have one from every neighbourhood but we haven’t achieved that. But we will have at least a dozen walks.”
Several New West walkers, including Wilson and Cote, contributed walking routes and maps, which will be posted on the Walkers’ Caucus website. You’ll find them at www.walkerscaucus.ca/janeswalk.
“We will post the entire thing – the map, the route and the whole bit, and then you can pick which one you want to do,” Wilson said. “You can do it in the morning. You can do it in the afternoon. You can do two a day; you can do one a day. You can spread it out as long as you want and do it at your convenience, but just make sure that you walk six feet apart, you wear a mask, you respect social distancing and you obey the rules.”
The pandemic may have led to the cancellation of last year’s Jane’s Walks event in New West, but Wilson believes it’s more important than ever for folks to get outdoors and go for a walk – for both their physical and mental wellbeing.
“As much as the exercise, it’s the benefit of being out there, taking a deep breath, and not feeling like you are in prison, not feeling like you are trapped,” she said. “That is so important right now.”
Jane’s Walks 2021 runs from Friday, May 7 to Sunday, May 9 – just in time to inspire folks to take part in this year’s Walk30 Challenge, an annual walking competition between New Westminster and Burnaby to see which community’s citizens can rack up the most walking minutes.
“Be a tourist in your own home town and go for a walk. You’re stuck for ideas? We are saying, ‘Here, we’ll give you a whole bunch of ideas,’” Wilson said. “You can use them for Jane’s Walk, and we will leave them up on the website so they can keep on doing them through Walk30.”
Jane’s Walks are inspired by Jane Jacobs, an urbanist and activist who championed a community-based approach to city building.
“Just remember Jane Jacob’s rallying call: You’ve got to get out there and walk,” Wilson said.
The Walk30 Challenge, which runs from Monday, May 10 to Sunday, June 13, encourages people to walk for 30 minutes daily to help improve their health and to help them rethink how they move around their community. Participants track their walking stats in an attempt to help their community come out on top and win the Gold Shoe trophy – an award New West won in 2018 and 2019.
“Jane’s Walk will give you some practice to get you in the mood and get you practising, and boom, you’re right into Walk 30. You know, there’s no reason why New Westminster can’t win this again. I know it’s supposed to get people out walking for 30 minutes, but really it’s there to see who can win,” Wilson laughed. “Burnaby is feeling pretty feisty this year. I’m getting the sense that they are not going to take this lying down. They want to come back into the game.”
For details on the challenge or to sign up, go to www.best.bc.ca/walk30.