Healthy Communities by Design (HCBD)

Local community planning and design directly affect health and well-being. Communities can support the prevention and management of chronic health conditions by creating healthier places for people to live, work and play.  Healthy Communities by Design (HCBD) is an evidence-based approach to designing healthy communities.

Healthy Communities by Design creates stronger social connections; helps reduce injuries, chronic diseases, and cancer; and makes the community safer and more resilient by promoting healthy lifestyle choices. We use neighbourhood design, transportation networks, housing, food systems and natural environments as pillars when considering planning factors that contribute to healthy community design.

HCBD in Action

Complete, compact, communities where people can live, work and play support physical, mental and social health. Connected neighbourhoods provide social supports and access to amenities that meet daily needs. 

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Prioritizing infrastructure to support active transportation modes can increase physical activity and reduce environmental impact. Connected, safe and accessible routes provide healthy mobility options for all. 

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Access to quality, suitable, affordable housing positively impacts physical and mental health. Diverse housing options help to meet the needs of all, including vulnerable populations. 

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Healthy eating is more than individual choice and is influenced by local policies and environments. A healthy, resilient local food system includes accessible, affordable, safe food options. 

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Access to natural areas promotes physical activity, social interactions, and mental health. Green spaces can improve air quality and reduce climate impacts, supporting a healthy and resilient ecosystem. 

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Planning Essentials

Safe Healthy Environments (SHE) can support the inclusion of Healthy Communities by Design (HCBD) in municipality’s’ planning work. AHS’ SHE team uses the B.C. Centre for Disease Control’s Healthy Built Environment Linkages Toolkit as the foundation for our work in promoting public health through HCBD.

Please reach out if your group is interested in including HCBD in your municipality’s planning work. This might include:

  • Reviewing your land use plans from a public health perspective. The Public Health Inspector conducting the review will consider conventional areas of public health concern (such as drinking water and contaminated land), as well as HCBD concepts. We identify and support aspects of the plan that include HCBD. We might also make evidence-based recommendations for HCBD pillars that are not already included in the plan.
  • Providing a HCBD perspective on development applications or municipal initiatives, when consulted. For example, AHS provided an HCBD perspective on open space initiatives to keep people active, connected and safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Bringing a public health perspective to your planning process by participating in municipal engagement opportunities.
  • Connecting municipalities with other teams within AHS that may be able to support your municipality’s specific healthy community initiatives.


Call 1-833-476-4743 or use our online form to connect with us.

Resources for Municipalities

Municipalities play an important role in formalizing public commitments through healthy public policy, an essential factor that can lead to sustainable, positive results. Here are some helpful resources:

Public Engagement

The municipal planning process in Alberta often includes public engagement. There may be a chance to provide your input online, or in person. Check with your local municipality to learn about participating in public engagement opportunities in your community. Most municipalities have a public engagement website. Here are a few examples:

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