In early March, the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer (CPAC) and the Urban Public Health Network (UPHN) co-hosted a workshop, “Building the Case for Active Transportation in Canadian Communities: Advancing Active Transportation Policies to Enhance Cancer and Chronic Disease Prevention“.
Eighty participants drawn from public health units across the country, universities, the Canadian Institute of Planning, the Canadian Institute of Transportation Engineers, and non-governmental organizations, converged on the City of Montreal to focus on the ways in which people can collaborate across sectors to create communities that foster and support health, healthy living, and active transportation.
Elaine Moore, Regional Councillor for Peel Region and City Councillor for the City of Brampton, Ontario, described how Peel Region and the City of Brampton have been working to build health considerations into the land use and transportation planning processes. She encouraged participants to cultivate a champion for this issue in their communities. “Look at your Councillors, identify a Champion who might have an interest in healthy communities, and make your ask” she suggested.
Dr. Gaynor Watson-Creed, Medical Officer of Health for Capital Health in Halifax, Nova Scotia, described the positive relationship that Capital Health has built with the Regional Municipality of Halifax over the last two years through their Healthy Canada by Design CLASP project. She encouraged public health to approach collaboration with a willingness to be guided by the partner agency. “The Planning staff in Halifax got it; they understood that land use and transportation planning decisions affect health. They did not need us to tell them that; they needed our support with the health evidence and strategically with decision-makers and the public” she explained.
Robert Grimwood, Senior Project Manager – Sustainable Transportation for the City of Ottawa in Ontario reported that Ottawa now has an ambitious multi-modal Transportation Master Plan, as well as a Cycling Plan and a Pedestrian Plan. He explained that the next challenge is figuring out how to measure and monitor “levels of service” under a multi-modal system. “We need to figure out how to measure levels of service for pedestrians and cyclists, and how to evaluate levels of service for all modes in a way that is less biased towards cars” he noted.
Inge Roosendaal, Program Development Officer with Ottawa Public Health, described how public health has been working to support their colleagues in Planning and Transportation Services with Board of Health reports, health-evidence, and estimates of health impacts for Ottawa. “If we want to influence policies beyond our control, we need to develop relationships with staff in other departments, and we need to learn how to engage effectively in their processes” she offered.
David McIsaac, Transportation Demand Management Program Supervisor for Halifax Regional Municipality reported that they now have Complete Streets Policies and Official Plan policies supporting them. The next step, he explained, is developing implementation guidelines that weave the new policies into existing policies and practices. He encouraged participants to see the community as allies: “Community groups can provide political support, organize community events, and may even provide financial support for specific projects; actions that build awareness and support with the public and decision-makers”.
More information on these projects can be found on the Healthy Canada by Design website at: http://hcbd-clasp.com/. More information on active transportation policies across the country can be found on CPAC’s website at: www.cancerview.ca/preventionpolicies.
Prepared by Kim Perrotta, Executive Director (Volunteer), Creating Healthy and Sustainable Environments (CHASE) Kim Perrotta/LinkedIn