Planners spend their days dealing with complex problems: from designing place-based communities, to creating effective transportation systems, and to creating housing opportunities for all. We know we need to collaborate widely and effectively across the urban system. How might we harness our understanding of the people we serve to develop collaborative methods for solving these problems together? 

Do Cities Impact our Mental Health?

January 08, 2018 | Posted by OPPI | Post Contributed by David Stinson, RPP | Community Design, Mental Health
On Thursday, 7th of September 2017, CBC interviewed Professor Nicholas Rose from King’s College, U.K. on his sociological studies for an upcoming Mental Health and the Mega-city workshop in Switzerland. Professor Rose discussed the apparent link between higher rates of mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, and schizophrenia and city life. There were no definitive answers on causes: noise, congestion, smells, wealth gaps, social exclusion, limited access to nature, etc., except for the subjective experience of stress.
As municipalities across the Greater Golden Horseshoe continue to grow in population and density, new strategies for creating parks and public spaces in more urban environments are needed. How do we engage communities and program parks when there are so many different users? How do we plan a public space system that is connected and accessible? How do we design public spaces in a flexible way to respond to their urban context?
Have you heard of the Healthy Rural Communities Toolkit? It's a guide for rural municipalities that helps recognize the characteristics commonly associated with rural communities. It provides examples of innovative practices, and land use and development strategies that can help to enhance the built environment and contribute to positive quality of life and health outcomes.
As the 2016 OPPI Symposium in Hamilton draws near, planners from around Ontario will gather to learn and share ideas around Planning for the Public Realm. In concert with this, OPPI is releasing a Call to Action that encourages planners, designers, the various levels of government, municipal departments and agencies, other related professionals and members of the public to make the public realm a focus in community building and placemaking efforts across Ontario.
Picture yourself standing on a city street corner.

You are absorbing the sounds of people, traffic and the hum of the unfamiliar city around you. How do you go about navigating this space, understand where you are and how to get where you want to go? Are there signs nearby that clearly indicate the street names, are they close and easy to read, are they consistently located? Are there maps that indicate your location and nearby amenity?
New Ontario Building Code ("OBC") amendments to permit six-storey wood-frame construction were enacted early in 2015, creating considerable buzz from developers trying to gain a competitive advantage, as well as planners looking to introduce a mid-rise and mixed-use development format into challenged urban environments. The amendments increase the permitted height for multi-residential, commercial office, and other mixed-use format developments from the previous four-storey cap.
Achieve the drop of standards versus the established guidelines by being prepared to pioneer a new solution when historical design standards may not apply to contemporary objectives in street design. Incorporate stakeholder involvement with innovation in the form of interactive workshops and great visual representations.
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