Deanna Fletcher: Her Multi-Modal Motivation

By: Samantha Maurice

When Deanna Fletcher began her commuting journey, she never knew how a few simple changes would impact her life. 

As an employee at WSP Canada, Deanna has commuted to work and around York Region by transit and walking for over 40 years. Since choosing to incorporate transit and walking into her commute, she has seen positive changes in her overall fitness and her carbon footprint.


“I'm quite happy and proud of the fitness I have achieved, while minimizing my carbon footprint. I've been using public transit and walking for decades. On my journey, I find the nicest routes and see so many birds, bunnies and gorgeous gardens, which I use as a reward and incentive to keep on walking. Walking 5-10km? No problem!” 


By choosing a multi-modal commute or a “smart commute”, Deanna and many other commuters experience continuous benefits such as lower stress levels, financial savings, and improved overall health.

According to a study conducted by the Canadian Automobile Association, single-occupant vehicle (SOV) drivers will spend approximately $7,000-$10,000 a year in ownership and maintenance of a car. Torontonians are also spending an average of 42 minutes each day in traffic. Choosing to drive alone contributes to detrimental effects on the environment, a notion that has not gone unnoticed by Deanna, who discussed her thoughts on transit and how she gets to work:


“I take transit to work 5 days a week and it's great! Convenient and cool! After work I walk 1.5km for my husband to pick me up. It's a win-win for me and the environment. 

To work, I've been taking 16th Ave. #85 YRT bus east and southbound Leslie #90 YRT bus to bypass the Yonge St. Viva Transit construction. To go home, I mix my walking routes. I take walks around South Park Rd, Pond Dr., Times Ave. and sometimes a nature trail off Pond Dr., leading up to Highway 7. It’s short, and a nice break reconnecting with nature, even if only for a brief period. My husband then picks me up at Valleymede Dr. and HWY 7 for a drive home.”


Deanna embodies the qualities of a sustainable superstar, but notes that her workplace and local resources in York Region shape the way she commutes. In July 2018, Deanna took part in the WSP inter-office Step Challenge with fellow colleagues, Ewa Gruszczynski, Nurlene Martinez, Seng Tomosvary and Heidi Arends, who created the unstoppable group known as the Sassy Steppers! By working as a team, the Sassy Steppers achieved the most logged steps in a day (a total of 58.9 kms logged on July 18, which is approximately 73,625 steps!) and were awarded a Smart Commute Markham, Richmond Hill swag bag. By joining in the inter-office step challenge, Deanna and her teammates acted as ambassadors and showcased the heart and determination it takes to make a difference in the world around us. 

With family and personal commitments, the idea of commuting sustainably may seem like a far-fetched ideal but Deanna continues to be a champion for multi-modal commuting by offering her tips on how the environment around you can make commuting by transit and walking work for anyone’s lifestyle:


“What WSP has is a focus on getting things moving with our staff and designs. This step challenge was a joint initiative and a great success, which I would gladly do again! There’s no transit passes or carpool spots, however there is a bike rack and YRT bus stops steps from our building entrance. Routes 90, 90B and 82 almost at our door! Fabulous!

From YRT, I've learned that you've got an ally to assist you on your journey if you call ahead and get times and best routes to reach your destination. Keep your cool if you’re calling about a bus delay as they’re doing what they can to inform and help you. The hardest thing to adapt to is keeping up with stops changing, due to the construction happening on Yonge St. and schedule changes when schools reopen for the season. As for walking, it’s not to overthink your journey; just LACE UP AND GO! If you power walk like I often do then -5 degrees is a nice temperature so you can unzip and remove layers of clothing as you go. Have a bag for your woollies. I’ve often seen wide eyes when I’m walking hatless and unzipped, especially with parents telling their kids you keep your hat & scarf on. It amuses me. Also, wear good footwear and give it a try!

Remember to call YRT ahead for best times and routes and remember to keep your transit funds topped up on your card as online payment doesn’t record in 5 or 10 minutes, so do it at the store or the night before online. As for walking just layer up and do it. You’ll notice your stamina and endurance improve as you go, maybe get some great tunes playing on your phone and you’re good to go! Let the music move you and watch your body tone up! For any cyclists I strongly suggest you follow the laws, and walk your bike across the road if you’re riding on the sidewalk. If you’re riding in the bike lanes then ride across, but not from the sidewalk. Cars follow the laws of the road and you need to also.

Cool Runnings! Peace be the journey.”


Smart Commute Markham, Richmond Hill would like to thank Deanna for sharing her sustainable commuting journey.