The pandemic has opened many people’s eyes to the built environment, as they look to escape the confines of their home to enjoy the fresh air and partake in physical activity. And as that happened, many have voiced their concerns over a lack of green space, safe pedestrian routes, and the inability to keep physically-distanced when trying to improve their physical health.
Never has it been more important for people to have safe spaces to perform activities that focus on improving their physical health. But in many cases, the built environment at the property, neighbourhood, and/or community scale does not provide the necessary resources to do so.
To better understand how the built environment can promote or hinder physical activity, the WSP in Canada Future Ready team convened a multi-stakeholder conversation, welcoming experts from national and global markets to provide their input on the subject. The stakeholder groups included professionals involved in health care, active transportation, municipal planning, and transit authorities, as well as academics, green infrastructure developers and more. They represented a diverse voice, all of whom have a role to play in impacting physical activity in the built environment.
The conversation included a look at the strategies and designs that promote physical activity in the built environment where we live, work, and play. There were several questions that emerged as part of this discussion, scaled for properties, neighbourhoods, and communities: are there spaces that are accessible to be used for physical activity, be it walkways, grassy areas, or built-in recreation equipment, are they maintained and accessible year-round, and are they usable by all ages and abilities, just to name a few.
Putting the end user first was the key driver in the discussion. Every question asked, challenge confronted, and solution recommended each had people in mind, at all ages and level of physical ability.
Through this conversation, and future discussions like it, we can determine how best to design, engineer and retrofit communities that promote equitable physical activity opportunities, and work with governments at all levels to ensure that these considerations are included in the procurement of future built assets. We can also figure out how best to address policy, programming, social license, and other influences on the promotion of physical activity. Because regardless of whether we are in the midst of a pandemic or a normal day in the life of Canada, everyone needs access to safely go outside and become active.
To learn more about the outcomes of our discussion, please contact Jamie Summers from the WSP in Canada Future Ready team.
If you’re ready to learn how our team can help you design and engineer your built environment to promote physical activity, contact:
Dave McLaughlin for expertise on integrating active transportation trails in your community.
Kevin Cassidy for insight on designing health care facilities that promote on site physical activity.
Jonathan Loschmann for information on designing the urban natural environment to create healthier cities.