In the first-ever competition held between the communities of Stettler and Ponoka, the former emerged as the winner of the Walk ‘n’ Roll challenge this summer.
Organized by the Heartland Beautification Committee (HBC), the challenge began on May 1 and ended on Aug. 31. Stettler recorded 10,008 trips while Ponoka registered 6,512 trips over the course of four months.
“The goal of the challenge was to encourage residents to walk or bike to their destination, rather than use their vehicle,” said Grace Fix, main organizer, and vice-chair of HBC. “So these totals mean that vehicles were left at home over 16,500 times throughout the summer.”
According to Fix, participation far exceeded expectations in both communities, and increased impressively throughout the summer, with the totals for the month of August being double than that of May.
Stettler Mayor Dick Richards added to the fun by placing a side bet with the Mayor of Ponoka, Rick Bonnett: the losing town would have to wear the Junior B hockey jerseys of the winning town at a council meeting.
“That happened this past Tuesday, Sept. 26 in Ponoka,” Fix added.
While Ponoka had the advantage of having about 1,000 more residents than Stettler, Stettler had a significant advantage since this is Stettler’s third year of doing Walk ‘n’ Roll promotions to Ponoka’s first.
“Ponoka had superb participation for their first time, and they are certainly out for blood for next year,” Fix stated. “We are in the habit of driving everywhere, when walking or biking can be an option. Stettler is flat, the distances are not great, and we have an excellent trail system. Walking or biking is so much more enjoyable, it gives us some calm in our busy lives, and it saves emissions, all of which walkers and cyclists find is well worth the extra few minutes it will take.”
Ponoka and Stettler are already planning next year’s challenge. Other area communities may be invited to join in the fun as well.