Alice Miro: Health Background Studies Framework, Peel Region (2011), Work In Progress panel presentation from Building Healthy Communities: Bringing Health & Wellness to the Community Planning Table conference.
These answers were generously provided by a colleague of Alice Miro’s, Christine Gutmann, MCIP, RPP, Health Planning Facilitator, Public Health, Region of Peel. We thank Ms. Gutmann for her contributions.
Please note: The Health Background Study Framework (HBS) is now on Peel Region’s website (PDF).
1) What is leapfrogging and Greenfield development?
Leapfrogging can be best described as development that occurs a distance away from existing urban areas. For example, in Southern Ontario, we have the Greenbelt Plan. The Greenbelt protects a swath of land in and around the GTA area for agricultural and environmental purposes thereby limiting opportunities for development. Leapfrogging concerns came about because some municipalities felt that limited development opportunities within the Greenbelt would result in some new development skipping over the Greenbelt in order to avoid the restrictions. Hence the term “leapfrogging”.
Greenfield – Land that essentially has not been used for development previously. For example, farm land is typically a good example of this. This is different than infill which is land that exists in the urban environment but is not utilized or underutilized.
2) We have many small (very small) communities in our province and those communities/towns have limited (or no) resources. How is this applicable to those communities? Any advice?
My advice would be to consider where you feel you would have the most impact in improving the health of the residents of the community and focus your attention on those areas. Some sections of the HBS may have no relevance in a very small community whereas other sections may have great impact. If there are limited (or no) resources, consider what the low-hanging fruit might be. Also consider what existing processes are in place and how they can be refreshed to consider health impacts better.
For example, in order to have the most impact, the HBS was developed in a way to be able to incorporate health impacts into the existing planning process. Municipalities can ask for studies as part of the planning process (provided it is listed in their Official Plan) to determine if the development will be safe, appropriate and acceptable prior to recommending an approval. The HBS would be one of these studies. As part of the planning review, the planner could review the study to determine if the proposal would have a health impact. In doing so, the intent was to build the health review process into the standard planning process for all planning applications in order to make health an integral part of the review process.
3) How are developers responding to healthy living assessment as a municipal development requirement? Any examples of remarks on this?
The development community was part of the workshops during the development of the Health Background Study Framework. The development community is receptive to the idea, however, concerns arise around conflicting requirements – for instance, where a specific standard is discussed in the HBS conflicts with a transportation standard, which one takes precedence? In actual practice, however, as the HBS has not been test driven yet, it is difficult to answer this question.
4) The evidence-base referred to: Is evidence that links the six core elements to influencing physical activity levels or to improved health as a result of manipulating the built environment?
The Health Background Study Framework is based primarily on the Healthy Development Index. The Index can be found on Peel Region’s website. Details on the evidence collected for this work can be found in the Healthy Development Index report.
5) Development approvals site plan approvals etc are driven by the local municipalities. Have the local municipalities implemented the guidelines and standards? Are there political challenges to implementation? How were they overcome in Peel region?
Some municipalities are choosing to incorporate this work as part of urban design guidelines, green development standards, and in other studies. Most of these studies are just starting out or are under way. So far we have had political support in doing this work, but there have been limited challenges to its implementation as of yet.