On July 12, 2014, the Canadian Institute of Planners (CIP) and the Atlantic Planners Institute (API) wrapped up their joint annual conference in Fredericton, New Brunswick. Entitled, People Matter, the conference was dedicated to the positive impact that Planners can have on health by influencing how people live, work, eat and play.
The 3.5 day event included 3 keynote presentations, 16 mobile workshops, 13 intensive workshops and 34 concurrent sessions. Among the 477 participants at this year’s conference, were 22 members from the Healthy Canada by Design (HCBD) CLASP Initiative.
The 10 members of the CIP Healthy Communities Committee (CIP HCC), which has been funded through the HCBD CLASP Initiative since 2009, organized four of the conference’s sessions:
- One workshop, intended as an introduction to healthy community planning, was built around the Healthy Communities Guide, three research briefs, and the legislation comparison report prepared by the CIP HCC over the last five years;
- Another workshop revolved around innovative healthy community projects undertaken and presented by students from five universities – Ryerson, York, Guelph, Queen’s and Dalhousie;
- One panel, focused on Health Impact Assessments (HIAs), included:
- An introduction to HIAs by the National Collaborating Centre for Healthy Public Policy;
- A description of the Healthy Development Index developed for Peel Health and its application to land use planning processes in Peel Region;
- A summary of the health-enhanced modelling tool developed for Toronto Public Health which can be used to estimate the impact of various planning scenarios on levels of physical activity and emissions of greenhouse gases; and
- The People Assessing their Health (PATH) process developed to engage the community in planning decisions in Antigonish, Nova Scotia.
- The fourth session focused on healthy community work being done in developing countries with: an overview of CIP’s international outreach work; the health and urbanism research of the Commonwealth Association of Planners; and the work of the international organization HealthBridge to support inclusive planning processes around healthy food, active transportation, and park planning in both Bangladesh and Vietnam respectively.
Heart and Stroke Foundation convened a panel on inter-sectoral collaboration which showcased the work of five HCBD partners – Ottawa Public Health, the New Brunswick Department of Health, Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region, the CIP HCC and the Heart and Stroke Foundation. The three health authority partners described how, through the HCBD initiative, they have collaborated with planners in their communities on official plans, transportation master plans, subdivision guidelines, provincial legislation, and rural active living assessments.
HCBD members were also involved in two panels organized by other organizations:
- The New Brunswick Department of Health presented on a panel dedicated to the Rural Active Living Assessment (RALA) tool, along with the tool’s creator, Dr. David Hartley from the University of Southern Maine, Dillon Associates and the North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit; and
- The Regina Qu’Appelle Health Authority collaborated with planners from the City of Regina on the innovative community engagement strategies used in the process to amend Regina’s Official Community Plan.
The CIP conference included a powerful health message from keynote speaker, Dr. Karen Lee, who has helped to embed active living in New York City’s planning processes over the last several years. It closed with an inspirational keynote presentation by former Vancouver Councillor, Gordon Price, who offered, “Every time we introduced a new bike lane to the City of Vancouver, critics predicted that disaster would ensue. But disaster did not happen. Instead car use went down while cycling increased.“
Prepared by Kim Perrotta, HCBD Knowledge Translation & Communications, Heart & Stroke Foundation.