Designing for healthy communities from policy to construction: lessons learned from City of Calgary

Imaginelethbridge socialmedia 4 guestspeaker joycetang 1080x1080

This is the honeymoon period. Stakeholders are starry-eyed and dreamy at the thought of making Lethbridge the Healthiest City in Canada. They want to get started and make things happen.

That’s wonderful, said Joyce Tang, but it’s probably good to know off the top that building a Healthy City is a long game. Once the honeymoon ends, the marriage begins – and hopefully lasts a lifetime.

Tang, with the City of Calgary, was guest speaker on Day 3 of the Imagine Lethbridge forum.

Her background in urban planning and landscape architecture has laid the framework for her belief in the relationship between human health and the built environment, and she shared learnings from the Calgary experience to help Lethbridge move forward, including a planning tool for decision-making.

Her work launched in 2015 with the area structure plan and health impact assessment for Calgary’s Nose Creek development, and that work informed creation of a playbook for healthy communities, organized to support the City of Calgary phases of planning going forward.

“In the planning for Nose Creek – when we undertook this new process, we went to council and had their full support,” she explained. “We built in checkpoints along the way to do health appraisals that made us ask if the plan was meeting the metric and we did that all the way through. If the concept doesn’t hit the mark, you don’t proceed and you go back to the drawing board.”

Ensuring there were community feedback points along the way allowed them to mitigate risks. They did site tours – “If you’re gonna plan the land, you better walk the land,” she said – and they took stakeholders with them.

Along the way a set of healthy planning principles took shape that are now embedded in every city planning process.

“We decided we would just make the healthy choice the easy choice,” said Tang, “and we asked people ‘which options here would allow you to live a healthier lifestyle?’ versus asking the question ‘What do you prefer?’ throughout the engagement process.”

To hear Joyce’s complete presentation, visit:

Be sure to bookmark our site to stay on top of updates. Many Lethbridge residents have already shared their ideas at Imagine Lethbridge and still others have completed a short survey (you can too – go to:

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