Creating Healthy Communities Through Urban Form
Liptay, Deirdre M.
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ABSTRACT The manner in which we design and build our communities can affect our physical and mental health. When we think about urban planning, we reflect on the form and arrangement of community, of urban, city and town planning. Urban form looks at the integration of land use and explores a complex range of the built and social environment: the environment, infrastructure, people, form and economics. The research recognizes cultural behaviours and activity patterns that affect air quality and environmental conditions; a lack of physical activity, community cohesion, highlights safety issues, and places individuals at risk for health illness. The research evaluates the built form of the neighbourhood community and asks ‘What are the attributes of a healthy community’? The research will verify the extent to which the neighbourhoods selected in the study replicate these attributes and focus on how these neighbourhoods could be improved from a ‘healthy city’ perspective. Key urban form features related to healthy communities focus on the relationship between land use mix, network connectivity and street design, site design, and density. Sustainable planning of communities and efficient land use planning are relevant to healthy communities with the trend towards increasing population density. While the research reinforces the connection between built form and public health planning, it also provides future direction for urban form policy; with improvements towards street connectivity, non-motorized transportation, expansion of regional trail and cycle networks, increasing transit access, encouraging mixed land use and greater land density to shorten travel distances. The research provides a basis for future studies in Canadian growth policy and healthy neighbourhood form, with significance as a Southwestern Ontario study.