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Action 1: Community Design and Land Use Planning

Why are community design/ land use planning important?

  • They help to build robust communities by managing and directing land use to achieve healthy, liveable and safe communities.

  • They help to create communities as good places to live, work, learn and play in close proximity to one another.

  • They promote complete and compact settlements. This is applicable in rural areas where the revitalization of existing towns, villages and hamlets is encouraged. Some communities must deal with populations that are even more widely dispersed. These include places where large-scale agriculture, natural regeneration of poorer agricultural land and recreational properties compose substantial amounts of land. Complete and connected communities located in these areas need other creative responses – for example, high speed internet connectivity and the provision of secondary road or waterway networks (MMAH, 2014).

  • The creation of community design guidelines clarify the meaning of general official plan policies and put these policies into practice for new development in a community.

City of Kawartha Lakes: Case Study

  • The City of Kawartha Lakes has recently developed a variety of land-use planning documents that focus on creating active and healthy rural communities.

  • Activating Kawartha Lakes was an on the ground initiative where the community was invited to take part of walking audits with a walkability consultant to build on the policy work completed to date. These walks and the resulting photo visions of specific sites proved to be successful and provided inspiration for the implementation of more walkable and active design elements in the community.

Recommendations for rural municipalities:

  • Ensure that your official plan includes policies related to healthy communities.                         Specific examples include active transportation, air quality, walkability and parks and recreation facilities, among others. Use the 2014 Provincial Policy Statement to help inform policies in your official plan, as it is a tool that promotes health and wellness in all communities.

  • Develop appropriate community design guidelines that can assist in implementing the Official Plan and reflect unique community conditions and characteristics. These guidelines can help to ensure that development and retrofitted development achieve broader healthy community actions.

  • Tips from practitioners:

    • Consider using resources such as the Region of Peel Health Assessment Tool, which identifies the public health impact of built environments. The tool has the goals of developing healthier communities and increasing the walkability of neighbourhoods in order to encourage active living. Please see: Region of Peel Health Assessment Tool