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Public Realm

According to the Professional Planners Institute:

“The public realm is crucial in achieving healthy communities across Ontario as this is where civic life flourishes, society intersects and people are encouraged to interact. The public realm includes any publicly owned places and spaces that belong to and are accessible by everyone. These can include municipal streets and lanes, squares, plazas, sidewalks, trails, parks, open spaces, waterfronts, conservation areas, public transit facilities, civic buildings and institutions. Learn why the public realm is a focus in community building and placemaking efforts across this province.” Public Realm – Planning 101

Building Healthy Communities

Where people live has as much influence on health as how they live. We work with our municipalities and community organizations to ensure individuals and families live in healthy vibrant communities with a natural environment and “public realm” that support health, quality of life and prevent health problems. A healthy vibrant community is designed to promote:

  • Adaptation and mitigation of our changing climate (more info under Climate Change)
  • Safe routes for active transportation to work, school, shopping, social activities and home
  • Access to parks and other amenities
  • Opportunities for recreation
  • Access to jobs, services, and healthcare
  • Opportunities for positive social interaction
  • Spaces that encourage mental well-being
  • Access to outdoor spaces for all ages and abilities for play and transportation
  • Access to outdoor spaces for play and transportation for all ages and abilities
  • Access to healthy food
  • Opportunities for aging in place
  • Opportunities to be physically active
  • Clean air and water quality

As a municipal leader, staff member, or partner, you play an important role in creating a community setting that supports health. Here, we offer information to support you on a variety of public health topics that pertain to municipalities. Review topics within this section of our website to learn more and to access resources related to each topic.

Active Transportation

Active transportation refers to any form of human-powered transportation used to get from one place to another, such as walking, cycling, using a wheelchair or skateboarding.

Consider how to make improvements to active transportation in your community. This will help residents to move actively and get where they need to go. This also makes your community more accessible to those residents who don’t have a vehicle or can’t drive.

Walk or Bike Friendly Community Designation

Work with your municipality to apply for the Walk or Bicycle Friendly designation.

Promote Active Transportation at Community and Municipal Events

Active School Travel

Active school travel is a human powered means of getting to and from school. See our Active School Travel page for more information.

School Travel Planning – Lanark, Leeds and Grenville

We have the following booklets available with information on Active Transportation. Each includes Benefits of Active Transportation, Statistics & Data, Myths & Facts and How to Take Action, Get Involved, Prepared and Moving. Each is written to meet the needs and interests of the specific groups of people that are listed below:

  • Municipal Staff and Decision Makers: This information is for both elected municipal council members and municipal staff (e.g., planners, recreation directors, town councillors, CAOs, etc.). Municipal staff and decision makers are the people who plan, promote, and make decisions on behalf of the residents within the community. They have substantial influence on the development patterns, transportation systems, and design of their communities.
  • Residents Wanting to Use Active Transportation: This information is for residents who use active transportation, or would like to use active transportation to get around the community. In our large rural area, many residents drive a long distance to get to town and may use active transportation to move around once they get there, while others live in town and can walk or bike from home.
  • People with Challenges and Limitations Wanting to use Active Transportation: This information is for people that would like to or need to use active transportation to move around their community but have some challenges or limitations walking or cycling or may use a wheelchair, walker, cane, or stroller. Some may have challenges using active transportation due to their age or health. Families with young children and individuals that are older, or frail, find long distances and challenging terrain a problem. If you are older you are at a higher risk of injuries when traveling on busy routes that are less safe, and may avoid these roads.
  • Other Residents Not Using Active Transportation: This information is for residents living in a community where their neighbours might be using active transportation. They may not wish to move around the community in the same way but can still benefit from living in a community that is designed for active transportation.