Methodology: A Profile of Promising Practices from Canada and Abroad

This collection of case studies represents projects from each of Canada’s ten provinces and three territories, as well as two international examples. Communities were selected through two mechanisms: first, by request for nominations to the Healthy Living Issue Group and the Population Health Promotion Expert Group of the Public Health Network; second, through research and networking by the authors. The following case study selection criteria were established to facilitate meeting the overall project requirements.

Case study selection criteria

  1. An example from each province and territory, if possible, and two international;
  2. Different sizes of communities/municipalities;
  3. Urban and rural examples;
  4. Different changes in the built environment (urban design and buildings), transportation infrastructure (bike lanes, streets), or policy, planning and programming;
  5. Collaboration of different partners including non-governmental organizations (NGOs), government, industry, community groups, business, education, etc.;
  6. Examples from different stages of development and engagement, with higher priority given to more mature projects;
  7. Success stories, although it is not necessary to only profile success;
  8. Examples that reflect a health perspective – ideally with health outcomes included in the decision-making process (healthy weights, physical activity, healthy eating, and food security are the primary focus, without excluding others);
  9. Examples that achieve multiple objectives related to health outcomes; and
  10. Examples that address the needs of vulnerable or marginalized populations since these are often the people living in the unhealthiest environments.

A total of forty-two projects were initially nominated and sorted in a table (see below) specifying setting, project type, partners involved, development stage, target group, implementation level, and health outcomes. A brief synopsis described location, topic, and contact information. The Strategic Collaboration Working Group reviewed and evaluated each of the projects, and selected one for each province and territory and two international examples.

The case studies were selected with the intent to represent the wide variation of settings, regional circumstances and partners found across Canada. The case study communities profiled in this document range from the village of Harbour Grace, Newfoundland and Labrador with three thousand residents, to the Region of Peel, Ontario with a population over one million. Similarly, the implementation reach of projects ranges from the local level, to the provincial, to the inter-territorial level. The rich variety of the case studies reveals an impressive array of innovations.

case Study Evaluation Matrix
Figure 1 - Text equivalent

Figure 1 - Selection Criteria

Selection Criteria
Cluster A: Setting Cluster B: Project Type Cluster C: Partners Involved Cluster D: Development Stage Cluster E: Target Group Cluster F: Implementation Level Cluster G: Health Outcomes
Urban Urban Design Health Nascent Children/Youth Local Healthy Eating
Rural Transportation Infrastructure Planning In Progress General Population Regional Physical Activity
  Policy/Planning NGO/Community Group Completed Marginalized Populations Provincial Other
  Program Elected Officials        
    Education Sector        
    Industry/Private Sector        

Case Study Evaluation Matrix

After final review and case study selection, key informants were identified and invited to participate in a telephone interview. The case studies are based on these key informant telephone interviews using a structured set of questions. The key informants, all actively involved with their project, came from public health, health promotion, regional or urban planning, recreation, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), local government, and education, among others.

The case studies were then summarized and analyzed for planning and implementation processes, partnerships, evaluation methodologies and results, lessons learned, and advice to other communities. The analysis focused on how a health perspective was developed and how the participating organizations influenced the planning process. It is important to note that this study does not represent an exhaustive analysis of all healthy built environment efforts in Canada.

We are grateful to the project participants whom we interviewed for this report. Their willingness to share detailed information about their work and the challenges they faced has strengthened this review.

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