Photo Credit: Francis Nasca
The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) commissioned TCAT to support healthy built environment research for the Locally Driven Collaborative Projects (LDCP) program. The LDCP brings Ontario public health units together to develop and run research projects on issues of shared interest related to the Ontario Public Health Standards and to identify the most promising practices that have been used by public health units to engage in municipal planning to form a healthier built environment. To support the implementation of a LDCP project titled “Healthy Built Environments – A Provincial Framework for Healthy Community Design”, there were two phases to the work TCAT carried out with leadership provided by SMDHU:
During the first phase of the project (between October 2018 and March 2019), TCAT investigated how public health units can most effectively work with their communities to achieve community design that improves population health. The project had two objectives: 1) identify and define the characteristics of community design that protect and promote health and health equity, and 2) identify and describe the most promising practices for public health units to engage with communities to achieve health-protective, health-promoting, and health-equitable community design.
In collaboration with Public Health Ontario (PHO), a survey was conducted of all Ontario public health units to identify high impact, adaptable and evidence-based promising practices currently in use to achieve healthy built environment goals. Based on the survey findings, focus groups were then conducted with seven health units to provide deeper exploration of promising practices.
In the second project phase (November to December 2019), TCAT developed a website – PlanningforHealth.ca – and new resources for Ontario public health professionals who are working with their communities to achieve community design that improves population health. The PlanningforHealth.ca website has three focus areas:
1. Mapping the Municipal Planning Process in Ontario. Opportunities for Public Health Input. This 17-page primer provides public health practitioners with an orientation to Ontario planning processes and identifies opportunities for input and involvement. It is available as a downloadable file on the website and an interactive series of pages that hosts the content.
2. Promising Practices for Healthy Built Environments in Ontario’s Public Health Units. This 21-page report provides information about four types of promising practices that have proven to be most effective and in what contexts. It is available both as a downloadable file and an interactive series of pages that hosts the content.
3. Resource Bank. This contains a compilation of resources that emerged as being the most useful through the focus groups and the literature review. This list of resources, hyperlinked, is housed on a page on the website called “Resources for Practitioners”.