A healthy community is compact, pedestrian-friendly and transit-supportive; contains a mix of uses to support daily living; and enables physical activity through active transportation. Regular physical activity through active living is critical to reducing the burden of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
The City of Mississauga, in partnership with Peel Public Health, has developed the Healthy by Design Questionnaire to evaluate development applications from a health perspective. The project will create metrics and a performance measurement process to enable staff to be more effective in integrating health as a key component of development applications, and to evaluate trends on an area and city wide basis.
Mississauga has adapted the Region of Peel’s six Core Elements of the built environment that impact health: density; service proximity; land use mix; street connectivity; streetscape characteristics; and efficient parking.
- Public education and awareness: Educating the public on the value of healthy built environments is beneficial because it will help create market demand for healthy developments, to which the development industry can respond. A lot of people are already aware of Walkscore as a means of evaluating the desirability of neighbourhoods, and the Healthy by Design Questionnaire can be used in a similar way.
- Policy Intervention: Having performance metric data will help City staff identify and analyze trends, gaps and opportunities in healthy development across the city. Staff will be informed in utilizing policy interventions to address issues in certain types of developments or areas of the city.
- Healthier developments: Informed by stronger policies that address gaps in healthy development, City staff will be better equipped to influence proposed developments.
Beginning in May 2018, new development applications will be evaluated through the lens of the Healthy by Design Questionnaire. The City will be running a 2-year pilot program to refine the evaluation criteria, optimize process requirements and create a baseline of information.
Following completion of the pilot, the process may be subject to change.
What is the process, and how will this affect applicants?
There will be no major changes for applicants during the duration of the pilot. Submission requirements for applicants will remain unchanged. The evaluations will be completed by City staff, in consultation with Regional staff. Evaluations will be conducted concurrently with other reviews of the application by City staff and commenting agencies, so there should be no additional delay in processing applications.
Based on the results of the evaluation, comments and suggestions will be provided to the applicant for their information as part of the Application Status Report (ASR). Evaluations will be done twice: once at initial submission; and secondly, after final approval to track any changes to the application.
Staff would be pleased to meet with applicants who have questions regarding the comments or scores.
Will results be reported to Council?
Regional policies require that the results of health assessments be reported to local Council. Mississauga will not report the results of individual applications to Council on a site by site basis, but will be done as an aggregate of applications on an annual basis. This is the preferred approach because it is consistent with the City’s annual reporting for growth forecast, employment, office directory, and other data collection initiatives.
Not all development applications will be subject to an evaluation. Staff have developed criteria which will be used to determine the eligibility of applications for evaluation. The intent of this approach is to focus attention on major applications in areas of the city where the most growth is expected and where the criteria can have a greater influence. In order to be eligible for evaluation, development applications must meet at least one of each of the following three criteria:
- Application Type
- Official Plan Amendment
- Plan of Subdivision
- Standard Site Plan
- Land Use
- Mixed Use
- Intensification Areas
- Major Node
- Community Node
- Corporate Centre
- Intensification Corridor
- Major Transit Station Area
The Healthy by Design Questionnaire can be accessed here.
The Questionnaire is divided into five different strategic goals. Each goal is essential to creating a health-supportive built environment. The strategic goals are as follows:
- Strategic Goal 1 – Land Use and Density: In key areas of the City, encourage mixed use and appropriate intensification to create an urban environment that optimizes the use of infrastructure and services.
- Strategic Goal 2 – Service Proximity: Create complete communities by encouraging development to be located in close proximity to community services and businesses required for daily living needs.
- Strategic Goal 3 – Network Connectivity: Encourage residents to be active by promoting multi-modal and fine-grained street networks.
- Strategic Goal 4 – Optimized Parking: Prioritize the pedestrian experience over the location and amount of vehicular parking to create an active streetscape.
- Strategic Goal 5 – Active Buildings: Incorporate site and building design details that contribute to walkability and an animated streetscape.