Healthy Peel By Design

Place Matters. The ways our communities have been designed and built have changed our world… and our health. Find out:

Why land use is a public health issue

In the 19th century, the professions of public health and planning came together to create a separation of land uses and protect the public from exposure to toxins, improve crowded housing conditions and implement sanitary reform.

During this period, separation of industrial and residential land uses, disposal of waste and the provision of safe drinking water were the main responsibilities of public health. The overall health of communities and the people who lived there soon improved dramatically. But we soon started to see a pattern of suburban development typically seen in North America today: low density neighbourhoods with poor street connectivity that are built for the car and not the pedestrian.


A measure of how well street networks and transportation systems are linked. A well-connected street network has numerous street linkages and intersections, offering many possible routes from point A to point B.

A measure of the quantity of a certain element (people, households, jobs) found in a unit of geographic area (such as square kilometer or square mile)

How location impacts health

These automobile-centric designs have been linked to a wide range of health problems, including physical inactivity, obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, asthma and respiratory disease. Today, the fields of planning and public health are coming together again to combat the wide range of health problems typical of such auto-dependent environments.

The shape of our communities can also have an impact on air quality. Features such as low density, separated land uses and poor connectivity between the different land uses can contribute to an increased reliance on the private automobile and in turn, increased levels of air pollution. Building design can also lead to increased levels of air pollution as inefficient buildings use more energy. To learn more about the impact of air quality on health, visit Clean Air Peel.

The evidence is clear. Where you live affects your health. How you live impacts your environment

How Peel Public Health is building a healthy environment

Peel Public Health is a leader - locally and nationally - in changing the way communities are designed and built. We are:

  • bringing health and well-being to discussions on land use and transportation planning across the region;
  • developing policies and long-term goals for the Regional Official Plan jointly with Development and Transportation Planning;
  • creating a repository of current and emerging research and sharing it with our community partners; and
  • working with partners from across Canada to create state-of-the-art tools and guidelines to help planners, developers, policy-makers and public health officials make health-informed decisions.

Peel Public Health is involved in the development of a Climate Change Strategy for the Region of Peel. The way our communities are designed, including our travel patterns and building design, can impact the way we use energy, which in turn can influence our health and climate through issues such as the Urban Heat Island.

Peel Public Health is staying ahead of the curve by focusing on built environments as a strategic priority. We are determined to build healthy, active communities for every resident.


Built Environment
A term referring to the physical form form and character of communities. It usually consists of three elements-transportation systems, land use patterns, and urban design characteristics.

Mixed land use
A measure of the different types of land uses (including retail, residential, school, parks and workplaces) present in a given land area.

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