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Built Environment

Healthy community design policy for official plans

What is municipal land use planning?

Municipalities across Ontario are required to plan for their future growth, development and the way land will be used in their community. A municipal Council, with input from its citizens, produces an Official Plan that meets the specific growth and development needs of that community.

Official Plans

An Official Plan sets out where, when and how a community will develop and grow. It contains policies that deal with infrastructure and services (such as water, sewers, schools and parks) and where people will live, work, shop and play within the community (location of housing, shops, offices, industry and agriculture).

An Official Plan must comply with Ontario's planning policies and legislation, and where applicable, to an upper-tier regional plan. A municipal Council must update its Official Plan every five years. 

Healthy community design policies

Municipalities need to consider the impact land use planning and the built environment have on people's health. Elements of the built environment, such as road design, location of greenspaces, availability of bike and pedestrian trails and access to grocery stores, all influence the health of residents and visitors.

Municipalities can help to create healthy communities by including policies in their Official Plans that address health-related issues such as the environment, injuries and safety, physical activity, sun safety, smoke-free spaces, access to healthy foods, and social cohesion and well-being.

Health unit policy resource for municipalities

The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, with input from stakeholders and professional planners, has created a resource to provide municipalities in Simcoe Muskoka with health-related suggestions for Official Plan policies and implementation activities. This resource will assist municipalities in creating healthy and complete communities while also meeting the provincial policies. Municipalities are free to use the concepts within this document and adapt, amend or revise the wording to suit their particular needs and circumstances.

Healthy Community Design: Policy Statements for Official Plans

Document by section:

Preface, Table of Contents & Introduction (496k PDF)

Environment (318k PDF)

Injury & Safety (296k PDF)

Physical Activity & Sun Safety  (296k PDF)

Food Access  (302k PDF)

Social Cohesion & Well-being(289k PDF)

Glossary, Resources & References(363k PDF)


 Full document (1,236k PDF):

 policy statement official plan

  Healthy Community Design: Policy Statements for Official Plans


Evaluation of the Policy Statements Resource

In October 2011, the health unit undertook an evaluation of the policy statements document. The evaluation investigated if the resource was useful, how it was being used, had it resulted in the incorporation of healthy community design policy statements into municipal official plans and/or other strategic documents, and if and how it could be improved. Local municipal planners, municipal elected officials, selected key partners, selected health unit staff and Board of Health members were asked to participate in an on-line survey to help answer these questions. Findings and full survey results can be found in the evaluation report.

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