Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Planning healthy communities: If you are what you eat, then you are also where you live

The link between health and lifestyle choices such as diet and exercise is well documented. So too is the relationship between health and the built environment. The way we design our cities has real health impacts.

click to enlarge
I’m part of a team planning a new community in northeast Calgary (we’re calling the area Nose Creek), and we’re planning it with the health of its future residents, workers and visitors in mind.

In the early 1800s, communicable diseases posed a serious problem in part because of the lack of sanitary systems, tight living quarters without access to sunlight, air quality issues from nearby heavy industrialization and a shortage of green space. Planning urban areas differently helped to curb related health problems.

Since Nose Creek is in the early stages of planning, we have the opportunity to plan for health. We've come up with an area structure plan, which outlines the provision of essential services and facilities, land uses, transportation systems, population, jobs and the timing of development. Health is the vision and focus for the plan.

The foundation of this health-focused and inclusively-planned community originates from a set of planning principles outlined in a Health Impact Assessment developed by the Urban Land Institute’s Building Healthy Places Initiative. Once fully built, this area will provide residents the amenities and opportunities to make healthy choices.

Nose Creek's Healthy Planning Principles
Our plan will locate 20,000 office, light industrial, commercial and retail jobs in the community. This gives residents the option to work close to home; thereby increasing work-life balance by reducing time spent commuting and encouraging a healthier lifestyle.

In fact, we’re doing something that’s never been done before in Calgary by creating what’s called an industrial hub – an area suitable for smaller warehouses ideal for contractors and artisans. This industrial area will be unlike most, featuring a plaza with shops and services for those who work in the area, pathways and sidewalks, green space and landscaping, and parking situated behind, not in front of buildings. Picture an enjoyable, healthy place to work. The connected pathway system through Nose Creek’s employment centre will support access by way of public transit, bike or foot in a safe environment.

We're also planning for a range of housing types, building forms, gathering spaces, employment opportunities and complimentary retail uses in Nose Creek that promote a healthy, active and safe lifestyle for all.

All Calgarians are invited to meet the Nose Creek Area Structure Plan project team and learn more about this new community at a public open house. Drop by between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m. on Thursday, September 3 at the community kiosk (nearest entry 2) in CrossIron Mills.

This blog was written by Joyce Tang, a City Planner and development team lead for the Nose Creek Area Structure Plan. Learn more at www.calgary.ca/nosecreek

1 comment:

  1. Community Gardens are not going to cut it. Urban Farms might.