Our postal code is a powerful predictor of our health.
The design of our cities has a lasting impact on how we move and participate in everyday life, influencing our chances of experiencing poor health outcomes like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Canada will spend over $180 billion on infrastructure over the next 12 years. How will these investments impact our health and wellbeing? Who stands to benefit, and how?
The INTErventions, Research, and Action in Cities Team (INTERACT) is a national research collaboration of scientists, urban planners, and engaged citizens uncovering how the design of our cities is shaping the health and wellbeing of Canadians from coast to coast. Seeing the city as a living laboratory, we use innovative tools that harness the power of mobile technology and interactive mapping to measure the impact of changes in urban infrastructure on people’s physical activity, social participation, and wellbeing, and inequalities in these outcomes. By enabling cities to understand the health impact of their investments, our research aims to inspire healthy and sustainable urban development that will leave a lasting impact on population health and health equity in Canada.
INTERACT aims to:
Initially launching in four cities across Canada – Victoria, Vancouver, Saskatoon, and Montreal - INTERACT will be evaluating the health impact of real world urban form interventions that represent an investment of more than $225M.
- Vancouver Arbutus Greenway
- Victoria AAA Bike Lanes
- Saskatoon Bus Rapid Transit
- Montreal Community Sustainability Plan
Arbutus Greenway is a future continuous walking and cycling corridor that will connect 4- distinct Vancouver neighbourhoods. The 9 km rail corridor was purchased by the City of Vancouver for $55M in 2016. Temporary path construction is ongoing from spring 2017. The final design (based on extensive community consultation), will be presented to City Council in spring 2018, with final phased-construction to start in 2019.
Research Leads: Meghan Winters (SFU), Joanie Sims-Gould (UBC), Heather McKay (UBC)
Community Leads: Dale Bracewell (City of Vancouver), Maggie Buttle (City of Vancouver), Megan Fitzgerald (City of Vancouver)
Victoria’s All Ages and Abilities (AAA) Cycling Network will introduce protected cycling infrastructure across the city, starting with the implementation of a 5.4km grid in the downtown core by 2018. While such facilities are common in European cycling cities, to date no Canadian city has a protected cycling network serving all areas of the city. Victoria’s $7.75M commitment to the AAA Cycling Network is an important step in its bold journey to becoming one of the best small cities for cycling in the world.
Research Leads: Meghan Winters (SFU), Trisalyn Nelson (ASU, UVic)
Community Leads: Sarah Webb (City of Victoria)
Bus Rapid Transit Saskatoon, a $66M investment in a 22 km Saskatoon BRT system along three major roadways by 2020. BRT is an enhanced bus system, operating on bus lanes or other transit ways to combine the flexibility of buses with the efficiency of rail. BRT is now in twenty cities in North America. Starting in 2016, the City of Saskatoon will pilot service on four primary BRT corridors, with full implementation by 2021.
Research Team: Daniel Fuller (Memorial University), Kevin Stanley (University of Saskatchewan), Scott Bell (University of Saskatchewan)
Community Leads: Lesley Anderson (City of Saskatoon), Chris Schulz (City of Saskatoon)
Montreal Community 2016-2020 sustainability plan, a total investment over $100M, is a comprehensive sustainability plan which includes urban form changes the city and ~230 partnering organizations will implement in the next five years. INTERACT will focus on evaluating traffic calming measures, changes in transportation infrastructure, and greening programs.
Research Leads: Yan Kestens (Université de Montréal), Michael Cantinotti (Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières), Geetanjali Datta (Université de Montréal).
Community Leads: Louis Drouin (Direction régionale de santé publique), Danielle Lussier (Ville de Montréal).
Yan Kestens, PhD
Université de Montréal
Meghan Winters, PhD
Simon Fraser University
Daniel Fuller, PhD
Memorial University of Newfoundland