Rural Planning: Not Just An Urban Thing

March 01, 2016 | Posted by OPPI | Post Contributed by Taylor Wellings & Jenn Burns | Active, Communities, Community, Engagement, Healthy, Planning, Rural, Success, Tools, Transportation | 9 comments
Rural Planning: Not Just An Urban Thing
As we move toward a future packed with uncertainty, we need to embrace change to address the growing complexity of our environmental, social and economic systems. 

Rural communities are home to approximately one in five Ontario residents, who experience unique environments and lived experiences that can contribute to specific, and often negative health outcomes. These health outcomes call for concerted action and responsive public policy.
In response to the need for action, and in keeping with OPPI’s Professional Code of Practice which outlines the professional planner's responsibility to the public interest, The Healthy Rural Communities Toolkit showcases how people and organizations are dealing with growth and identifying the need for change. It was developed to showcase and outline best practices for change and growth in rural communities to assist in transformation to better health and wellness.
How is this toolkit useful for you?
Land use and development strategies that enhance the rural built environment and contribute to positive quality of life and health outcomes are identified in the toolkit. It brings a rural lens to issues often viewed from an urban perspective. The toolkit also recognizes characteristics usually associated with rural communities including low density or declining populations, aging citizens, youth-out migration, rural land use, and the rural economy.
Rural municipalities including planners, health unit staff and elected officials will find it beneficial, although it will also help other interested community members advocate for healthier communities and populations.

Share Your Story

We hope to create momentum around building healthy rural communities in Ontario by sharing success stories and best practices which fit into one of the 13 actions outlined in the toolkit:
1)    Community Design and Land Use Planning 

2)    Active Transportation

3)    Community Engagement and Capacity Building 

4)    Water Quality
5)    Air Quality
6)    Tourism
7)    Planning for Special Age Groups

8)    Agriculture
9)    Cultural Strategies and Revitalization
10)  Access to Local Food
11)  Nature 

12)  Safe and Affordable Housing
13)  Climate Change
Have you worked on a successful, innovative planning project which prioritizes healthy rural communities? Please share it with us in the comments below or by email to be entered in a draw for Tim Horton's gift cards! Winners will be announced via OPPI’s Twitter account.
Many planning projects are contributing to healthy communities. If you are uncertain if your project fits into one of the 13 key actions, please do not hesitate to get in touch. Many projects do fit, despite what you think. We welcome all emails.


Read Taylor's and Jenn's bios

OPPI Staff
Thank you to everyone who commented or emailed this month. The winners for the Tim Horton’s Gift Card draw are Mollie Kuchma and Stephanie Worron- Congratulations! you will be contacted privately to receive your prize.

If you are interested in learning more about Taylor and Jenn’s project, please feel free to visit their website:
2016-03-30 10:37:31 AM
OPPI Staff
Thank you for sharing, Mollie. We agree that there is no universal approach to rural planning issues; many rural communities across Ontario have unique planning issues that accordingly require unique solutions. Please feel free to share this post with others and to continue the conversation!
2016-03-29 10:27:05 AM
Mollie Kuchma
This is a great tool to identify some of the issues that planners in rural communities are facing and how other communities are facing these issues head on and developing solutions. It is great to know there is a network of people facing the same challenges and successfully combatting them.

The community I work in has a very vibrant economy based on one large, local employer. Because of this, our rural community is unique in terms of average household income. Research has compared our local community to some large cities in terms of income. One issue we face here is the availability of affordable housing. Although the majority of people in our community work for this one employer, not everyone does. There is a large gap between the wealthy and just average workers here. The price of homes and cost of rent is quite high and very difficult for some people (young adults/families, seniors, those not working for the one employer) to find affordable housing.

There is not a one size fits all approach to planning issues in rural communities, so sometimes we need to get creative. Great work on this project.
2016-03-23 9:11:28 AM
OPPI Staff
Thank you for your feedback, Valencia. Please feel free to share this article with your colleagues!
2016-03-15 10:34:27 AM
OPPI Staff
Thank you, Rebecca, for sharing this information and resources for further reading. It is certainly important to see how rural municipalities are embracing active transportation through tourism.
2016-03-15 10:33:41 AM
Valencia Gaspard
A timely article and very useful tool. Thank you Jenn and Taylor!
2016-03-14 6:27:11 PM
Rebecca McEvoy
The Municipality of North Grenville in Eastern Ontario is doing great work integrating active transportation with tourism planning as a means of creating healthier rural communities. Tourism promotions target day-trippers from nearby Ottawa and peri-urban areas to visit North Grenville and use the Municipality's extensive trails system for hiking or cycling and/or cycle around the hamlets using a 'themed' day trip guide. An oftentimes locals with follow suit for a fun staycation!
2016-03-13 3:49:43 PM
OPPI Staff
Hi Stephanie,

We're glad you liked this post and found it useful. Please feel free to share it with your colleagues and to continue the discussion here in the comments section!

If you would like to submit a post for the blog on a rural planning issue or anything else planning-related, we strongly encourage you to do that as well!

Thank you,

-OPPI Staff
2016-03-11 2:39:40 PM
Stephanie Worron
As the rural planning community rarely has a voice in planning world, I believe this article was extremely important for OPPI members to consider! Not only is the toolkit an amazing piece to develop cohesive planning for rural communities, but it can also be easily transferrable into urban settings. When community members think of a healthy community they automatically think of human or environmental health and I believe this article opens ones eyes to what the reality of a healthy community has become.

The 13 actions outlined in the toolkit should all be considered by urban and rural communities alike especially in our rapidly changing world.

Great Job Girls!
2016-03-11 12:16:10 PM