Vulnerable populations are often concentrated in neighbourhoods with less beneficial environments. This could include less greenspace, bringing hotter land surface temperatures, increased concentrations of air and noise pollution and fewer walkable amenities. Urban planners can play a crucial role in helping cities reduce these inequitable conditions by designing targeted interventions in areas that have a higher proportion of vulnerable populations exposed to less beneficial environmental conditions. However, pinpointing these hotspots can be a challenge because nationally standardized, locally relevant data that can help direct resources to those most at risk of negative health outcomes from environmental exposures have so far been unavailable to planners, policymakers and public health professionals.

This webinar will present HealthyPlan.City, a new and innovative Canada-wide tool that facilitates visualization and analysis of environmental and socioeconomic data in support of planning. An initial iteration of this publicly available tool was released in July. This first version of the tool combines land surface temperature and tree canopy cover data with socio-demographic data to show areas of ‘equity priority’ where higher proportions of vulnerable populations (older adults, children, low-income individuals, visible minority individuals, and people who live alone) and hotter temperatures coincide. In July, a landmark series of stories by CBC News/Radio-Canada used the tool to highlight areas that could be prioritized because of their heightened risk of extreme heat and limited capacity to respond to these temperatures. Future iterations of the tool will evolve based on feedback from urban planners, public health professionals, policy makers, researchers and the general public. Identifying where vulnerable populations and environmental exposures coincide can help urban planners prioritize resources to prevent adverse health outcomes.