Illustration by Ian Sullivan
From the Horse's Mouth: Dr. David McKeown on how Toronto can get healthy in 2016
From the Horse's Mouth is a new dandyhorse series where we ask City Hall experts questions related to their area of expertise.
This week, Dr. David McKeown, Medical Officer of Health for the City of Toronto takes us through three things that Toronto as a city can do to be healthier in 2016.
We asked: What can Toronto do in 2016 to become a healthier city?
Dr. David McKeown, Medical Officer of Health for the City of Toronto answered:
Toronto can take action on climate change.
Toronto can raise awareness about the many health benefits that result from taking action on climate change. Climate-smart decisions made by individuals, governments and the private sector are good for our health. For instance, when we drive less and walk or cycle more, there are many health benefits. Physical activity is good for our individual physical and mental health. It also improves air quality, which is good for cardiac and respiratory health across the population.
TransformTO is a two-year project that is engaging Toronto residents and businesses in imagining the transformative changes we will need to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by 80%. Increasing awareness of the health benefits of taking action on climate change will build support for making the best possible decisions for a healthy, prosperous and equitable future.
Toronto can support complete streets and reduced speed limits.
More residents choosing to walk and bike can help make Toronto healthier. Residents can join public consultation meetings on the development of the Complete Streets Guidelines that are planned for spring 2016. The Complete Streets Guidelines will help redesign our streets to facilitate physical activity, decrease exposure to harmful pollutants, and improve road safety.
Last year's decision to reduce speeds on residential streets in Toronto and East York from 40 km/hr to 30 km/hr is a good beginning to creating safer streets. Major and minor arterial roads with 50-60 km/hr speeds are where the majority of pedestrian and cyclists' injuries and deaths occur. To increase safety, we need to slow down.
Toronto can improve apartment neighbourhoods.
Standing tall, Toronto's apartment towers outside the city core are home to thousands of creative minds and rising stars. Step outside one of the apartment units and you'll find vast amounts of untapped potential in the landscape where there should be active communities with shops, places to meet, walkways, bikeways, vegetable gardens and inspiration for the young and the old to stay active.
Things are about to change for the healthier: City Council has approved a new Residential-Apartment-Commercial (RAC) zoning bylaw for apartment neighbourhoods, which will allow for the creation of healthy, active communities. Toronto Public Health would like to see the RAC zone come into effect in 2016 and energize apartment neighbourhoods to become healthier places to live.
Related on the dandyBLOG: