Exploring Peel Region’s “Healthy Development Assessment” Healthy Built Environment Tool and Policy-Making Process: Critical Lessons for Future Research and Policy.
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The purpose of this thesis is to contribute to the critical literature on “healthy built environment” planning policy-making. It applies the theories of post-politics and policy mobilities against a case study of Peel Region’s Healthy Development Assessment, to understand how the concept of “health” is defined and operationalized in practice. Health based policy tools in planning are a burgeoning area of focus, and one that is becoming particularly influential in Ontario. Peel Region was an early adopter of the initiation of a healthy development tool process to monitor potential health outcomes of private developments. This process began in 2005 and continued until the development of the Healthy Development Checklist in 2016. As a growing field, there is a little research conducted on how “health” is defined in these processes, who gets to define health, and what limitations there are to more broad definitions of health. This study used qualitative research methods and semi-structured interviews with 11 research participants involved with Peel’s policy-making process. The results highlight that with post politics, there are barriers to the conditions in which policy-making takes place that discipline practitioners from exploring wider definitions of health that are in line with post-political planning: the use of “health” as an empty signifier to advance an uncritical pro-growth agenda that is politically neutral. With policy mobilities, the study explores local contingencies that enabled the strategic advancements Public Health used to insert itself into conversations with decision-makers in planning, transportation and engineering, and to give it a voice that – while defining health more narrowly than preferred - still allowed the department to be part of the conversation on planning priorities, and positioned to develop its voice in future policy decisions affecting built form. The thesis concludes with recommendations on future research and policy actions.
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Nicholas Godfrey (2019). Exploring Peel Region’s “Healthy Development Assessment” Healthy Built Environment Tool and Policy-Making Process: Critical Lessons for Future Research and Policy.. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/14870
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