With 9 out of 10 Canadians expected to be urban dwellers by 2050, there is an immense opportunity to (re)design cities in ways that improve wellbeing and reduce health inequalities. We need to implement standard ways of tracking urban built environment determinants of health, environmental equity, and people’s lived experiences of their neighbourhoods, develop accessible metrics and tools, and embed these into strategic urban planning processes to make the most of the opportunity ahead.
The Dalla Lana School of Public Health, in partnership with The Canadian Urban Environmental Health Research Consortium (CANUE) has received funding to develop a set of digital tools. These tools will help public and environmental health professionals, urban planners, and the general public easily access, use and contribute to data on healthy urban environments.
CANUE has developed a prototype tool aimed at increasing awareness of the built environment and the connections to health and climate change. GoodScore.City will be enhanced and expanded over the next three years, and new tools will be developed that show where neighbourhoods could be improved to increase environmental equity for all Canadians.
This prototype tool provides preliminary data most relevant to urban areas:
- Air pollution from nearby traffic
- Density of stores, restaurants and other shopping opportunities
- Density of parks and recreation features
- Density of transit stops
- Urban streets with green vegetation and trees nearby
Locations in small towns and semi-rural areas will typically receive poor scores for amenity density, transit options, and even sometimes for recreation opportunities, but will usually score very well for traffic-related air pollution. Small towns and semi-rural areas often have other features that are beneficial for health, including sense of community, peace and quiet, and easier access to nature – but these data are not included in this early prototype. Industrial emissions are also not included. Look for our next, more complete version of this tool in early 2022.