About the Awards
The Smart Commute Awards were introduced in 2007 to officially recognize employer members and partners who have put forth exceptional effort in implementing their Smart Commute programs. These awards acknowledge outstanding commitment, leadership, innovation and results in active and sustainable travel.
From among the nominations submitted, an independent Awards Review Panel selected an Employer of the Year for each of the six regions within the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, and from those finalists, a Smart Commute Regional Employer of the Year Award was announced.
In addition, the Smart Commute Rising Star Award recognizes a workplace that achieved outstanding success in their first year in the program. And finally, the Smart Commute Champion Award celebrates the ‘above and beyond’ accomplishments of an individual or group whose contribution has been integral to the success of a Smart Commute program anywhere in the region.
New this year we introduced the Bike to School Week Awards. These awards acknowledged the outstanding work done to promote active and sustainable school travel across the region for the Bike to School Week campaign. Each region was recognized for their accomplishment. The Bike to School Week campaign is just one of the larger school travel planning pieces each region supports to encourage active and sustainable travel.
The awards were given out on November 24, 2016 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Scroll down to learn more about the winners.
Awards Review Panel Members
We extend our gratitude to the expert panel of volunteers who evaluated all of the nominations:
- Chris Burke – Director, Service Planning, Metrolinx
- Brent Kopperson – Executive Director, Windfall Ecology Centre
- Nancy Smith Lea – Director, Toronto Centre for Active Transportation
- Caroline Karvonen – Environmental Coordinator, PowerStream Inc.
- Christopher Wong – Director, Transportation and Master Planning, York University Development Corporation
- Leslie Wilson – Director, Scout Environmental
Thank you to our event sponsor TELUS for the supporting active and sustainable travel in the region!
2016 Smart Commute Award Winners (click below for details)
2016 Employer of the Year, Durham – Town of Ajax
The Town of Ajax has been an active member of the Smart Commute program since 2008. After launching a new transportation awareness initiative, the Town has been determined to provide staff and residents with the tools they need to get around easier, faster and smarter.
As of this year, new employees receive a special Active Transportation package during orientation which outlines Smart Commute initiatives, provides a bike facilities map and Ajax trails, as well as walking and biking maps for each Town facility.
The Town has come a long way to encourage more staff to switch modes of transportation including the purchase of a fleet of hybrid vehicles for staff use, subsidized fuel cards for carpoolers and has introduced the new Ajax Bicycle User Group (BUG). With a passion for commuting to work via cycling, BUG users meet a few times a year to create Town goals and tasks all within the SmartCommute philosophy.
2016 Employer of the Year, Halton – Halton Hills
Halton Hills is a vital member of the Smart Commute program, advocating for sustainable transportation practices for the last five years. Over the course of 2016, the Town of Halton Hills has continued to support Smart Commute initiatives, concentrating their efforts on cycling and walking activities. The “Noon Hour Ride” in May was a successful, public event that brought in 35 participants, 20 of whom were staff members.
Further to this, the Town of Halton Hills has supported cyclists with the installation of bike lockers and parking as well as the launch of their Bike Share program.
The Town has also invested in a series of active transportation wayfinding signs. The Town is in the process of installing 20 signage ‘trees’, each with five signs, across the community. These signs indicate the distance, on foot or by bike, to key destinations. The signs are located at key transition points, such as Georgetown and Acton GO stations. This program will be expanded with a further 10 signage trees in 2017.
2016 Employer of the Year, Hamilton – Hamilton Health Sciences
Hamilton Health Sciences (HHS) is a unique medical group providing specialty care to people. HHS is one of the founding members of the Hamilton SmartCommute program, cultivating its inception in 2005. The longevity of the program is largely due to the dedication of a volunteer staff committee who have been responsible for the Smart Commute program for the past 11 years.
The biggest challenge that HHS faced this year was relocating 350 staff to a new downtown office, conveniently across from a transit terminal. They have been heavily promoting alternative transport modes and this had led to a 46% increase in employee carpoolers. All carpoolers receive designated parking on site.
Further to this, HHS also provides secure bike parking for staff at four of its locations which are weather protected and free to use for registered staff. With continuous support and awareness of the SC program, Hamilton Health Sciences was a deserving choice for this year’s Regional Employer of the Year.
2016 Employer of the Year, Peel – Colliers International
Colliers International is a leading global commercial real estate. A founding member of the Mississauga Smart Commute division, Colliers has executed several successful campaigns, both in the walking and cycling commute initiatives. Some of the annual events include:
- Bike to Work Day (June)
- Show Us Your CycleLoan Love Contest (August)
- Annual tenant BBQ (July)
New this year, Colliers installed a secure bike storage room in their parking garage and expanded its CylceLoan program from 12 to 16 bicycles. In addition to this, 14 electric vehicle charging stations were installed promoting yet another sustainable transportation mode. Colliers continues to endorse, support and sustain their Smart Commute initiatives throughout the years which is why the company has been recognized as Peel Region 2016 winner of Employer of the Year.
2016 Employer of the Year, Toronto – LUSH Cosmetics
LUSH is a cosmetics retailer that provides a range of natural handmade bath and body products. A Smart Commute member since 2014, LUSH wanted to decrease the number of people driving to work and increase the number of walkers, bikers, carpoolers and TTC users, at the same time educate staff why sustainable travel choices are important for our city and the planet.
The successful bikeshare program launched this year included LUSH branded bikes that were taken from refurbished bikes. The secure bike parking facility, made from a converted shipping container, was situated in a prime location in the staff parking lot.
From May to June of 2014, LUSH ran a commuter competition across the business. Staff earned points for practicing smart commuting practices and the department with the most points as a percentage of their staff received $1000 to spend as a team. Some staff rode bikes for the first time, others walked far distances to work and some even bought bikes after the training session and continue to ride today.
The creative approach to the Smart Commute program sets an example for all employers looking to implement sustainable travel options.
2016 Employer of the Year, York– Lake Simcoe Region Conservation Authority
LSRCA’s commitment and support to the Smart Commute movement has been evident since it joined in 2010. During their Bike to Work Day event, LSRCA unveiled a brand new bike shed constructed by staff and featuring secure keypad access. It is conveniently located at the front entrance of their Newmarket office.
The results of some of the LSCRA Smart Commute division are as follows:
- 14% of staff participated in the 2016 Bike to Work Day
- 2nd place in the 2016 York Carpool Week Challenge, with 196 carpool trips and 24 logged staff member trips
- 3rd place in 2016 York Summer Bike Challenge, with 459 rides and 15 logged staff member trips
Momentum of the program is also maintained through on-going support and promotion from the staff-led SWITCH: Sustainable Workplace Initiatives Thinking Choices Habits.
SWITCH uses tools such as social media, “carpool cafes”, new employee engagement, announcements and monetary incentives to encourage ecological modes of workplace transportation. Smart Commute is an excellent opportunity to lead by example, which is part of LSRCA’s mission statement.
2016 Rising Star, Halton – Javelin Technologies Inc.
Javelin Technologies joined Smart Commute Halton as a part of their ambitious plan to achieve a net zero carbon footprint by the end of 2016. Javelin targeted reducing single-occupant trips to work and building telework options for training sessions as a central part of their sustainable operations plan.
Javelin launched their Smart Commute membership by partnering with a local bicycle shop to provide free bicycle tune-ups for all employees who ride to work. To further support employees who choose an active commute, washrooms were outfitted with change rooms and showers for employees to freshen up after the trip. To date, 26% of employees on site have joined the Smart Commute online tool and logged 148kg in carbon savings so far!
Smart Commute is proud to recognize Javelin as this year’s Rising Star and looks forward to seeing future sustainable transportation achievements from this inspiring company.
2016 Smart Commute Champion, York – Katharine Gatto
Katharine is the Human Resources Advisor at Southlake and an essential contributor to their Smart Commute efforts since its inception in 2007. Katharine has promoted every campaign, organizes workshops throughout the year and has initiated additional Southlake Smart Commute events. She is extremely knowledgeable about travel modes, transportation infrastructure, policies and using the Smart Commute online tool. A dedicated carpooler herself, Katharine continues to support her team, answering any commuting questions staff may have.
Outreach events spearheaded by Katharine resulted in over $2000 worth of donated products this year from local businesses. In addition to this, Katharine participated in the reviewing of Southlake cycling infrastructure, looking for ways to improve policies. Her hands-on, team approach helped secured support from other departments in Southlake and employee interest in the campaign has grown due to her efforts.
Katharine possesses an infectious, winning attitude toward Smart Commute initiatives. Her constant positivity and support of sustainable transportation modes in the workplace is the reason why she is deserving of this year’s Champion award.
2016 Bike to School Week Awards
Durham Region – Largest increase in schools registered in Bike to School Week, from 2 in 2015 to 33 in 2016.
Halton Region – Highest proportion of the schools in the region registered for Bike to School Week – 33% of all of their English-language schools.
Hamilton - Signing of Active and Sustainable School Transportation Charter on International Walk to School Day, October 7, 2015, by Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger and both school boards.
Peel Region - Highest proportion of schools registered for Bike to School Week, which reported on their activities – 87% (average was 54%).
Toronto - Highest cycling mode share overall during Bike to School Week - 7.8%. That represents 11,971 trips to school by bike.
York Region – Hosted the first York Region Youth Bike Summit on May 4, 2016, involving approximately 100 high school students, teachers and decision-makers.
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