Canadian Institute of Planners: Healthy Communities and the Built Environment

Photo from hubpages.com
Photo from hubpages.com

“Today planners continue to address health concerns in the form of challenges such as chronic disease and skyrocketing healthcare costs. The intersections of these issues with ones such as climate change and energy conservation mean that promoting healthy communities is bound up with nearly all aspects of the built environments that planners help create.” (Canadian Institute of Planners website)
In today’s world, the planning profession – those who guide cities in developing their built form, play an active role in ensuring that development is conducive to healthy living.

The Canadian Institute of Planners is a partner in the “Coalitions Linking Action and Science for Prevention (CLASP)”. It unites cross-sector efforts to promote healthy built environments, and translates research into tools to support policy-makers, public health officials, planners and developers in creating more health-promoting communities across Canada.

CLASP has published three well-research fact sheets describing the linkages among active transportation, healthy active kids, and community design.

Fact Sheet 1: Active Transportation, Health and Community Design: What is the Canadian evidence saying?

“Numerous studies from Canada and around the world demonstrate a relationship between the physical design and layout of cities and towns – also known as “the built environment” – and the health of people living in them. Community form is associated with varying levels of physical activity, diet, safety and injury rates, and how easily people can access work, shops, services and schools.”

Fact Sheet 2: Active Living, Children & Youth: What is the Canadian evidence saying?

“Being healthy is not just about how we live, but also largely about where we live. A growing body of research shows that communities can be built in ways that encourage (or discourage) healthier living choices, such as walking, cycling, eating healthy foods, and connecting with neighbours. The physical layout and design of a community — elements like the width of streets; the presence of well-lit sidewalks, parks, community gardens and trails; and the location of schools, shopping and employment centres relative to homes — affect one’s ability to make healthier choices. By working across-sectors, planners, community leaders, health champions, researchers and others can help create communities that are built to make “healthy choices, easy choices” for all.”

Fact Sheet 3: Health Equity and Community Design: What is the Canadian evidence saying?

“Numerous studies from Canada and around the world demonstrate a relationship between the physical design and layout of cities and towns – also known as “the built environment” – and the physical and emotional health of people living in them. Additional research is focusing on how an individual’s socio-economic status may interact with community form to further influence a range of health and health-related outcomes such as levels of physical activity, diet, safety, injury rates, and, increasingly, emotional well being.”

Author: Alan Medcalf

Alan is a post-corporate, volunteer, community builder living in Brockville, Ontario. He seeks to create sustainable lifestyle advantage for the community by creating opportunities for more people to choose to walk and to ride bikes. He promotes the health, social, environmental and economic benefits of active mobility.

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