On November 29, 2017, TCAT and our Active Neighbourhoods Canada partners, the Montreal Urban Ecology Centre and the Sustainable Calgary Society, released a new report entitled Building Active Communities Together.
This report articulates the participatory planning approach developed by the Montreal Urban Ecology Centre during their Green Active and Healthy Neighbourhoods program, and refined by the Active Neighbourhoods partners during our pilot projects from 2013-2017.
As a project funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada, Active Neighbourhoods Canada has developed a “co-design” approach to designing cities for healthy living, which involves local residents taking an active role in determining beneficial changes to their neighbourhoods, in collaboration with design professionals. Our approach makes urban planning accessible, community-driven, and fun, and it is grounded in the belief that blending local knowledge and expert knowledge leads to strong outcomes. By working with neighbourhoods that are typically under-served with regard to infrastructure, and as a result experience negative public health outcomes, this participatory approach helps integrate a health equity lens to city design.
Our twelve pilot projects were incredibly varied in their geography, their process, and their outcomes. We worked within rural, suburban, small town, and urban contexts across three provinces, and engaged a broad range of stakeholders, partners, and community members. Our report speaks about the successes and challenges of each project, including the lessons learned through our on-the-ground collaborations. Looking to the future, the publication also outlines some of the goals of our next project phase. As we move the Active Neighbourhoods project forward, we will focus on the best practices we’ve developed, and will increase the reach and impact of our work by focusing on larger scale systems change through influencing professional practice and policy.