Public Health and Land Use Planning: Two Reports

The Clean Air Partnership, in collaboration with the Ontario Public Health Association, has produced two new resources for public health professionals with an interest in public health and its links to land use and transportation planning processes.

These reports were produced by CHASE’s Executive Director, Kim Perrotta, with funding from the Ontario Ministry of Health Promotion and Sport’s Healthy Communities Fund.  They are based on interviews with over 70 public health staff in 10 public health units in Ontario.

The background report, Public Health and Land Use Planning: How Ten Public Health Units are Working to Create Healthy and Sustainable Communities, examines the interventions these public health units are seeking, the strategies they are employing, and the organizational structures they are utilizing to encourage collaboration across disciplines within their health units. The report includes the work of public health professionals who are involved in chronic disease prevention, injury prevention, nutrition and environmental health programs.

It considers the built environment’s impact on human health as mediated through six health-related factors; physical activity, access to healthy foods, vehicle-related injuries, air quality, climate change and water quality. This report, which is 230 pages long, is intended as a capacity-building tool for public health professionals, and possibly for professionals in the fields of land use planning, transportation planning and sustainability planning.  A hard copy of this report was sent to every Medical Officer of Health in Ontario in May 2011.

The summary report, Public Health and Land Use Planning: Highlights, which is 30 pages long, includes a high level overview of the built environment’s impact on human health as mediated through the six factors listed above. It also includes a high level discussion of the findings from all ten public health units. It is hoped that this report will build awareness among public health professionals, other professionals in the municipal sector, community activists and decision-makers about the many ways in which the built environment can impact human health, and about the ways in which public health professionals can inform, influence and/or support land use and transportation planning processes.

Presentations on these reports were made to the OPHA, CIPHI, the GTA CAC, and CH-NET in 2011. Both reports can be downloaded from the CHASE website at: PHLUP-Background-Ap 2011 (4.2 MB) & Public Health & Land Use Planning – Highlights – April 2011.

Prepared by Kim Perrotta