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Growing healthier: A health equity impact assessment for Saskatoon’s growth plan

[This report] will be of interest to policymakers and members of the public who want to understand how our built environments shape our health, and what we can do to ensure that growth does not come at the expense of wellbeing.”p3

The City of Saskatoon released its Growth Plan to Half a Million in early 2016. Recognizing the impact this initiative would have in the next three or four decades, Saskatoon Health Region – Population and Public Health and Upstream, a Saskatoon-based “movement to create a healthy society through evidence-based, people-centred ideas,” collaborated to conduct a health equity impact assessment (HEIA) of the plan.

The authors argue that in addition to achieving the objective of growth, the city can focus on residents’ quality of life and be proactive against the potential negative effects of growth. Examples are provided of how changes at the municipal level can have a direct effect on the health and wellbeing of all residents, in addition to deliberately enhancing the health of those in low-income areas.

The report proposes that implementation of the Growth Plan occur through a “health lens” and offers 13 recommendations that align with plan initiatives. The recommendations focus on changes that will happen over the next four years, and in the areas of public transit, infill development and active transportation. The report advises conducting more HEIAs as the Growth Plan is implemented, and suggests the inclusion of community engagement and monitoring components.

The recommendations include:

  • Ensure a mix of housing types, including “deliberate emphasis” on affordable housing
  • Increase green spaces and trees
  • Provide proportional discounts on bus passes based on income level
  • Raise intensity of public transit service in lower-income neighbourhoods
  • Encourage service development along bus and active transportation routes to improve access to services
  • Invest early and heavily in active transportation infrastructure planning, accessibility and year-round maintenance especially in low-income areas
  • Integrate active transport infrastructure with public transit

Use this resource to:

  • Enhance your knowledge about how built environments affect health and well-being
  • Design interventions related to infrastructure and health
  • Advocate for or conduct an HEIA of your municipality’s growth plan

Reference:

Sharpe, C., Janzen, C., Schwandt, M., Dunn-Pierce, T., Neudorf, C., & Meili, R. Growing Healthier: A Health Equity Impact Assessment of Saskatoon’s Growth Plan. Saskatoon Health Region and Upstream: Saskatoon, SK. October 2016. Retrieved from: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B0U9o9nlpWKIQWp4RXNpNHYxclU/view

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Tags: Access to health services, Assess and report, Healthy public policy, Policy analysis

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