THUNDER BAY – On September 18, thirty of the 2018 municipal candidates gathered at an event held by the Thunder Bay District Health Unit (TBDHU). Keynote speaker, Dr. Victoria Barr from BC Healthy Communities, spoke with the candidates and the public about policies and strategies to build a healthier Thunder Bay. Cities can be designed in such a way that can help improve health, economics, and social well-being. Her discussion focused around the content from the Healthy Built Environment Linkages Toolkit, which is a resource that provides decision-makers with best-practice research to prioritize planning decisions.
“Rates of chronic diseases in Thunder Bay are higher than the rest of the province,” says Joanna Carastathis, Health Promotion Planner at TBDHU. “The built environment can have great impact on local levels of physical activity and access to healthy food options.” The evidence-based planning solutions presented in the Toolkit and Dr. Barr’s presentation emphasize the importance of building compact, mixed-use developments in existing areas of the city, which can contribute to improved health outcomes and decrease the risk of chronic disease.
Not only does compact, mixed-use urban design encourage healthy behaviours, it also is more economically sustainable in the long term. “By working together to limit urban sprawl, we can maximize opportunities to support a stronger, more vibrant community,” says Dr. Barr, who has a Ph.D. in Community Planning. “It’s exciting that TBDHU is taking the opportunity to share some of this knowledge with the municipal candidates – the successful candidates will now have background in applying a health lens to community plans, projects, or strategies, while also making the best use of financial resources”
This event was timed specifically in advance of the upcoming municipal election on October 22. All sixty-one municipal candidates were invited to attend this event and were also provided with background material on healthy built environments. After the event, candidates will be asked
several questions regarding building a healthy city which will be posted on the Thunder Bay District Health Unit’s website at: www.tbdhu.com/heathycity. Thunder Bay citizens are encouraged to visit the website and read the responses.