About the Awards
The Smart Commute Awards were introduced in 2007 to officially recognize workplace members and regional partners who have put forth exceptional effort implementing their Smart Commute program. These awards acknowledge outstanding commitment, leadership, innovation and results.
From among the nominations submitted, an independent Awards Review Panel has selected the top workplaces for the Employer of the Year Awards, and from those finalists, a winner for the entire Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) was announced.
In addition, the Smart Commute Champion Award celebrates the accomplishments of an individual or group who has gone above and beyond and whose contribution has been integral to the success of a Smart Commute program anywhere in the region.
Finally, the Bike to School Week Awards acknowledge the outstanding work done to promote active and sustainable school travel across the GTHA for the 2017 Bike to School Week campaign, which took place from May 29th to June 2nd. All six regions were recognized for their accomplishments.
The awards were given out on November 23rd, 2017 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. Scroll down to learn more about the winners.
Thank you to our event sponsor TELUS for supporting active and sustainable travel in the region!
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
- Christopher Wong– Director, Transportation and Master Planning, York University Development Corporation
- Mike Driedger – Program Director, Scout Environmental
- Rebekah Jackson-Gravely – Advanced Rehabilitation Therapist, Hamilton Health Sciences (2016 Regional Employer of the Year)
2017 Smart Commute Award Winners
2017 Employer of the Year Award, Toronto – Humber College Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning (Region Wide Winner)
Humber College became a member of Smart Commute in 2013, with sustainable transportation being a key component of its 2014-2019 Sustainability Plan. It has also been developing a Transportation Demand Management (TDM) plan to decrease the number of single-occupancy vehicles commuting to and from its North and Lakeshore campuses.
Currently, 59% and 56% of North and Lakeshore students respectively commute to campus with bus as their primary mode of travel. A large transit schedule display has been installed at North Campus and transit pass access has been improved by hosting two TTC photo ID days for students. Humber College has also been collaborating with transit agencies to enhance bus services to both campuses and install PRESTO machines on campus. It is involved in the development of the Finch West LRT and the Lakeshore Principal sits on the board of the South Etobicoke Transit Action Committee.
Humber College has also been improving cycling infrastructure by installing secure bike storage and bike repair stations at both campuses and launching a new bike share program. Additionally, a free electric vehicle charging station was installed at the Lakeshore Campus, with plans to install more at both campuses.
2017 Employer of the Year Award, Halton – WSP Group
WSP Group (formerly MMM) joined Smart Commute in 2008. In 2016, in advance of moving its offices from Mississauga to Oakville, WSP Group reached out to Smart Commute Halton for support in leveraging the relocation to create a change in employee travel behaviour. The new office was chosen due to its proximity to Oakville GO Station, making it easier for employees to commute sustainably.
Prior to the move, info sessions were held to provide employees information about their future commute options. A survey was also undertaken to create 155 customized commute plans for employees, with 34 employees pledging to try one of their recommended sustainable commute options.
WSP Group also worked with the new location’s developer and Oakville Transit to create a new bus route (#121), which provides a 5-minute connection between the new office and Oakville GO Station. Upon the move, ridership on the route grew to an average of 316 riders per month. The new location also has prominent carpool parking spaces, electric vehicle charging stations, and bicycle parking.
A post-move survey showed that the proportion of staff carpooling increased to 27%, compared to the 15% who intended to carpool pre-move. On the other hand, drive-alone trips have dropped to 62% post-move, compared to the 76% who originally planned to drive alone to the new location.
2017 Employer of the Year Award, Hamilton – Maple Leaf Foods
Maple Leaf Foods became a Smart Commute member in 2014. This year, it has spearheaded three initiatives to resolve parking management issues and support its goal of corporate social responsibility on environmental issues.
To improve staff commuting options, a carpool program is being implemented and 23 preferred carpool parking spots are being installed. Since the worksite is outside of the local transit service area, a shuttle service is also being launched to connect staff to the nearest bus stop. Additionally, sustainable transportation display was erected in the main lobby, ensuring that employees have access to information about their different travel options.
2017 Employer of the Year Award, Peel – Greater Toronto Airports Authority
A Smart Commute member since 2007, the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA) has set a target of having 30% of its employees commuting by transit by 2035 as part of its Pearson Mobility Hub planning efforts.
To help reach this goal, the GTAA started the Green Commuter Rebate Program in April 2017, offering staff a $50 rebate for each month they carpool, walk, cycle, or use transit to/from work 70% of the time. The program has been highly successful, with 178 participants and a reduction of over 321,000 km of vehicle travel and over 41,000 kg of greenhouse gas emissions.
The GTAA has six electric vehicles for employee use, three electric vehicle charging stations, and 30 carpool parking spots. It also has begun providing shuttle buses to meetings and social events. Additionally, a compressed work week and flex hours program has been implemented for staff.
2017 Honourable Mention, Employer of the Year – York Region District School Board
The York Region District School Board (YRDSB) joined the Smart Commute program in 2012, with a focus on increasing the number of employees carpooling and biking to work.
The YRDSB has been increasing the number of carpool parking spots and bike racks at its workplaces to encourage staff to change their travel behaviour. This is reinforced with participation in annual Smart Commute campaigns such as Carpool Week and Bike Month, with prizes as incentives.
A new travel expense policy has been implemented where staff who drive over 5,000 km per calendar year receive a reimbursement of four cents less per kilometre. Employees are also encouraged to carpool to internal conferences and to utilize teleconferencing and webinars where possible.
2017 Smart Commute Champion Award – Prabh Banga
As the Manager of Strategy Development and Corporate Sustainability, Prabh leads the development and delivery of the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA)’s sustainability strategy. She plays a key role in the strategic planning, implementation, and management of corporate social responsibility programs and policies. She is passionate about embedding sustainability into all of the airport’s business units and raising awareness of Smart Commute programs and services through new methods and partnership opportunities.
She implemented the Green Commuter Rebate Program, where staff are eligible to receive a $50 rebate for each mont they carpool, walk, cycle, or use transit to/from work 70% of the time. This program has been highly successful, with 178 participants since April 2017 and a reduction of over 321,000 km of vehicle travel.
Prabh also supports other Smart Commute initiatives at the GTAA, including carpool parking, EV charging stations, and the annual campaigns. She has also been a member of the Board of Directors for Smart Commute Pearson Airport Area since 2014.
2017 Bike to School Awards
- Durham Region – had the highest regional mode share at 9.2%
- Halton Region – 70% of registered schools in Halton had a supportive administration to run the campaign, a key factor of success
- City of Hamilton – more than doubled the number of registered schools; went from 15 in 2016 to 42 in 2017
- Peel Region – nearly tripled the number of schools that registered; went from 52 in 2016 to 152 in 2017
- City of Toronto – 84% of registered schools in Toronto engaged teachers to make Bike to School Week a success
- York Region – had the highest share of reporting schools with a supportive administration at 91%
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- Remarque : 3 écoles sont à l’extérieur des limites de la RGTH