UBC Graduate Research

Building A Healthy City for All: Exploring the Creation and Implementation of a Healthy Planning and Development Toolkit Neufeld, Lindsay Michelle


The connection between health and the built environment has attracted considerable attention in urban planning research and practice in recent years. Cities are increasingly looking to incorporate principles of health, well-being and quality of life into their planning processes. This study focuses on efforts by municipal and regional governments to bring broad health considerations into their planning and development processes through the use of comprehensive evaluation and decision-making tools. Research was conducted on the development and application of such tools and four jurisdictions were chosen for case studies: San Francisco, California; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Peel Region, Ontario; and New South Wales, Australia. The overarching objective of this study is to draw lessons from the case studies and provide a set of general recommendations for the City of Vancouver to consider in the potential creation of their own healthy planning and development toolkit. The idea to explore the development of such a toolkit stemmed from ongoing work in the City’s Social Policy Department on the Healthy City Strategy and the Downtown Eastside Social Impact Assessment. This report first provides a background by outlining a broad notion of health and well-being, tracing the planning profession’s past and current relationship with health, discussing what a holistic health lens can offer to planning, and briefly introducing health impact assessment as a way to measure the health effects of planning and development. The context for healthy planning and development in Vancouver is provided through a discussion of relevant strategies, partnerships and processes. Four descriptive case studies are then presented, focusing on the development, structure, and implementation of the tools. An analysis and discussion of key themes and lessons from the case studies follows, along with an outline of existing strengths and opportunities that the City of Vancouver can build on in creating their own toolkit.

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