Thursday, 27 October 2011

Viewing Planning as a Public Health Tool

The origins of planning, in particular in the UK, can be closely traced to increasing public health concerns.  The growing industrialization of nineteenth century cities created specific health impacts, from the air pollution generated by factories to the overcrowded housing for workers.  Early urban planning models were therefore partly driven by a desire to address the worsening state of public health.  Most notably, Ebenezer Howard’s Garden City Movement referred to a utopian town where the air and water were pure and smoke and slums had been eliminated.  Even the urban renewal of the 1960’s was loosely justified as a tool to eliminate overcrowding and the associated negative health conditions.  Yet reading most current city plans it would be easy to forget the close connections between health and the built environment.  Health issues may crop up in relation to environmental impacts, but very rarely is public health fully considered as a topic to which planning can effectively contribute.

It was therefore refreshing to attend the Walk21 conference held in Vancouver in early October to reconnect the health and planning professions. 

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

'Spacing Vancouver' - Book Review of Block by Block

My review of the Jane Jacobs themed book Block by Block can be found here on the 'Spacing Vancouver' blog.


Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Guest Article: Reigning in the Chain Stores

Nick Havard recently spent time in British Columbia and has kindly guest authored this article for Musings of an Urbanist.  Nick explores the issues surrounding food and grocery stores in Vancouver and why the city could do more to build on the healthy attitudes of the local population.  Thanks Nick!
I don’t recall seeing many fruit and vegetable shops in Vancouver when I visited recently. However, when we did find these shops the quality was fantastic. I noticed occasional roadside stalls on the drive to Calgary, but generally it seemed pretty difficult to stay away from the big chains, especially in the cities. I suppose this isn’t all that different from the high street in England, but it just seemed to me that it was more of a challenge to quickly pick up an apple in Vancouver than it is over here.