Public Health and Land Use Planning: Two Reports Revisited

In 2011, CHASE Executive Director, Kim Perrotta, prepared these the report, Public Health and Land Use Planning: How 10 Public Health Units are Working to Create Healthy and Sustainable Communities.  This 232-page report, was produced for the Clean Air Partnership (CAP) in partnership with the Ontario Public Health Association (OPHA), with funding from the Ontario’s Healthy Communities Fund.

Based on interviews with over 70 public health staff in 10 public health units in Ontario, the background report examines the ways in which ten public health units are trying to influence land use and transportation planning processes in their communities in order to make their communities healthier and more sustainable.  The ten case studies examine 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. They focus on the work of public health professionals who are involved in chronic disease, injury prevention and environmental health programs.

The background report 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, 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.

The background report has been broken down into four smaller pieces for those who do not feel they need to review the entire report; one on the one northern public health unit and the three rural public health units interviewed (68 pages); one on the two urban/rural mix public health units interviewed (39 pages); one on the four Greater Toronto Area public health units interviewed (82 pages); and one with the executive summary, health background, discussion and recommendations (60 pages).

The full background report, the four sections of the background report, and the highlights report can be downloaded on the “What’s New?” page of this website at:

Prepared by Kim Perrotta