Winter 2021

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participation and design mast head                                   
Celebrating 21 years of engagement and urban design for healthier communities!


NEWS . . .

Winter 2022

In Dec 2022 we completed an evaluation and guide for CultureLink’s Bike To School program. We worked with students and educators to test and develop the guide for cycling educators working with students with complex barriers, e.g., Mild Intellectual Disability, Autism & Learning Disability. 

The program is aimed at reducing social isolation and increasing opportunities for physical activity.
The program guide will create opportunities for students to learn to ride, carry out safety checks and learn bicycle handling skills.
Report cover

Winter 2021


This winter we participated in an exploration of community driven design. You can listen to this webinar on-line HERE
Tamarack Webinar

Spring Summer 2020

Improving connections in the Don Valley

Toronto's Don Valley is emerging as an important park resource especially for people living in apartments nearby. Because connections were so poor, we sought funding and initiated a study in 2012. A few years later, we teamed up with DTAH to look deeper at improving connections to the Valley.  In 2015 we won an Urban Design Award. But we always worry that studies can gather dust. Community and advocates have been very supportive of building links. We are excited to see more of the plan being implemented now under Toronto's ActiveTO program.


University Avenue Separated Bike Lanes

We assisted the City of Toronto 10 years ago by illustrating design options for University Ave.  Ten years later, Covid-19 brought about rapid changes as cities move to re-allocate road space to support climate change strategies, increase resiliency during extreme weather events, support businesses, and of course move people more efficiently.


Teacher's Toolkit – Updated

The Toolkit helps teachers use the School Community Maps (see Summer 2018 below) in the class. We have now incorporated Ontario's new elementary school curriculum into the Toolkit. Client: Toronto Public Health/Into Kids Health

 tool kit booklet

2020 Conference Workshops

We are re-scheduled to present "Supporting Cycling Culture" at the Ontario Bicycle Summit to be held in the fall.


Podcast with Tenfold (Public Health Training for Equitable System Change)

I really enjoyed talking with Andrea Bodkin about working with community to promote active transportation in our work at Public Space Workshop and at the South Riverdale Community Health Centre. I tell all in 25 minutes! You can listen here.
Pod cast crew

Podcast with Tamarack

We just recorded a discussion about how our communities can better support mental health through planning and urban design. Communities change. We look at how residents and decision-makers can find inspiration and shape the change to support community mental health. You can listen HERE

Winter 2020

Building walking and cycling culture

Hard vs Soft infrastructure

For over 20 years we have been designing streets and trails and planning networks - often referred to as building the “hard” infrastructure. Increasingly our work has shifted to building "soft" supports for active transportation. We have been facilitating advocacy and nurturing cycling culture (at the South Riverdale Community Health Centre and as consultants).                 

How do we help promote cycling culture?

  • Facilitating connections between advocates and municipal staff/elected representatives
  • Supporting strategic planning for improved walking and cycling supports (hard and soft supports)
  • Examples of our work:
  • Conducting walking & cycling audits to engage neighbourhoods in change
  • Learn to ride programs
  • Safe cycling workshops
  • Bike repair drop-ins
  • Access to affordable bikes (build-a-bike, bike share, Bike Host with CultureLink & newcomers)
  • Helped establish "Bike Hubs" (various programming)
  • Creating safe routes to schools strategies

    Advocacy       Outdoor Bike Reapir

    Environment and Health Course

    For the 3rd consecutive fall, Paul taught post-graduate students in the Workplace Wellness program at Centennial College. Interactive classes included waste reduction, climate change, the built environment and social marketing among others.

    Summer 2019

    Markham Cycles Community Bike Hub

    Working with The Centre for Active Transportation we assisted in establishing the Markham Cycles Community Bike Hub. We identified community host sites, pulled together steering committee meetings and assisted with hiring a coordinator.  The hub launched in July of this year with a fantastic turnout from local supporters, elected officials, staff and media.

    Photo: Opening day with coordinator Midhat Malik welcoming everyone

    Markham bike hub opening day

    York Region Built Environment and Health Strategy - Action Primer published

    We worked with York Region Public Health, WSP, Janet Dawson and Brianna Salmon and regional and municipal stakeholders to identify ways to accelerate improvements to the built environment to better support health in York Region. Now a "Primer" is available! See image link below.
    Primer document

    Winter,Spring 2019

    Using Indicators to Support Work on The Built Environment and Health

    Are we making a difference? How do we know? In February we worked with the Ontario Healthy Communities Coalition to bring together experts in statistics, data analysis, public health and G.I.S. to share ways that we can use indicators to measure the impact of the built environment on health. The webinar quickly sold out quicky. Thanks OHCC and all who shared their experiences!
    Slide 1

    Summer Fall 2018

    Walk21 Bogota

    This fall Paul presented the school mapping project - work being done for Toronto Public Health - at the annual Walk21 Conference. This year it was in Bogota. The talk generated  discussion about how to engage students in map making. We hope to build on these suggestions when producing the next round of maps!

    Bogoat slides

    Exploring your school neighbourhood

    We continue to work with Toronto Public Health to build maps for schools using GIS data and cartoons!. The maps illustrate health-supporting destinations within a short walk of the school. We developed a "Tool Kit" to assist teachers in using the map. Our evaluation indicated strong support and included numerous suggestions to improve access to the maps.
    Map enlarged
    gardeners shopping family soccer                              

    Webinar (Sold Out): How can public health units engage in official plan reviews?

    There was a considerable amount of interest in the March 29 webinar hosted by the Ontario Healthy Communities Coalition (OHCC) - long time advocates for healthy communities. If you missed it - no worries - send us an email for a copy.

    South Riverdale Community Health Centre roof garden

    Construction is complete. We did the design and the planting. The garden is now ready for its first full season!
    roof garden phots

    Built environment and health in Ontario

    We assisted in pulling together resources including this discussion related to the built environment and health (in Ontario)
    On line discussion advertisement

    Winter 2018

    How can public health units engage in official plan reviews?

    We worked with Peterborough Public Heath and their land use planners to strategize on how to incorporate public health into the new County Official Plan. We plan to share that experience at an upcoming webinar hosted by the Ontario Healthy Communities Coalition (OHCC)-long time advocates for healthy communities. 

    Neighbourhood improvement planning

    Working with the City of Toronto, we assisted the Don Valley NIA in developing a strategic action plan for 2018 and beyond. It was social, focussed and productive.

    Summer and Fall 2017

    Engaging communities in design for walking and cycling (with OHCC)

    This fall we worked with the Thunder Bay Public Health Unit to look at traffic calming and their new Transportation Master Plan. We engaged the community and staff in an interactive walking audit and then in a workshop to learn about traffic calming techniques, costs and levels of public/political acceptance.

    walk and workshop in thunder bay

    St Thomas Walkability Assessment

    St Thomas Walkabilty Assessment complete.
    St Thomas report

    Engaging communities in park planning (with OHCC)

    The Counties of Grey and Bruce are gearing up for municipal official plans. Late this summer we assisted with planning a workshop with Grey Bruce Public Health and OPPI local planners.  We presented an interactive discussion about the links between parks, open space and health. For slides of the talks go to LINK
    park image

    Winter 2016 & Spring 2017

    Regional Planning for School Travel

    With Green Communities Canada, WSP, Ryerson University and stakeholders in six GTHA regions we developed strategies for school travel planning in each region.   The work was completed for Metrolinx

    Active School travel image

    Built Environment and Health Workshops

    With HC-Link we hosted an on-line web chat with a follow-up planned for late spring. We also hosted a workshop with Durham Region to share information on planning, growth, transportation and health and set out ways to foster collaboration between departments.

    Cycling Advocacy in Waterloo Region

    Working with Waterloo Region Public Heath and Region stakeholders we reviewed various ways that advocacy can be supported and who might take on what roles for future advocacy efforts

    Advocay images

    York Region Built Environment and Health Strategy

    Working for York Region with MMM/WSP, Janet Dawson and Brianna Salmon we have conducted research and workshops with Regional and municipal stakeholders to identify ways to accelerate improvements to the built environment to better support health in York Region.

    Metrolinx Active and Sustainable School Travel (ASST) Regional Strategies

    We are working with Green Communities Canada, Ryerson University and MMM/WSP in 6 GTHA regions. We will assist each region  - Halton, York, Hamilton, Durham, Halton and Peel - in creating a strategic plan to accelerate and evaluate ASST work.
    .HAmilton Workshop

    St Thomas Walkability Assessment

    We are working with WSP to produce a plan for improving walkability in St. Thomas Ontario.  The project partners include local developers, the municipality and Elgin St Thomas Public Health.  Walkability audits, workshops and GIS mapping are pointing to a range of strategic improvements.

    St Thomas

    & Summer 2016

    Walkability Audits

    We have done a number of customized walkability audits documented in a recent webinar for Ontario's Physical Activity Resource Centre (PARC/OPHEA).

    OPHEA Poster

    Roof Top Garden - South Riverdale Community Health Centre in Toronto

    SRCHC, with assistance from Live Green Toronto is creating a roof top garden. Paul produced the design, modelling, budgeting and construction drawings. Construction is underway this spring!
    Design drawings

    Mapping Physical Activity and Healthier Food Resources

    For Toronto Public Health, PSW produced a series of maps for schools. The maps show nearby physical activity and food resources within 2 Km of the school.
    School Map       TPH Map

    Fall Winter 2015/2016

    Strategic Planning for Active Transportation in Niagara on the Lake

    We conducted two workshops for the NOTL Active Transportation Advisory Committee to look for ways to accelerate improvements and build on the work already underway in NOTL.
    NOTL WOrkshop  map

    Summer/Fall 2015

    Walkability Audits in Markham Ontario

    We conducted neighbourhood walkability audits for the City of Markham to identify existing barriers to walking and to develop some ideas for improving conditions.

    plan drawing   perspective

    Winter/Spring 2015

    Walkability Audits in Thunder Bay Ontario

    We conducted neighbourhood walkability audits for the City of Thunder Bay to bring stakeholders together and to develop some ideas and support for improving walking conditions. Read about the work Thunder Bay is doing on walkability.

      TBay tour  Event photo

    Planning for "smart growth" in Ontario

    We assisted the Ontario Healthy Communities Coalition and the Ontario Smart Growth Network with organizing a webinar on February 3 and Forum on March 24. We brought together a range of stakeholders from the province, non-governmental organizations and the planning and development industry to share community engagement strategies for the upcoming review of Ontario's Growth Plan.

    Planning for growth at the Southern First Nations Secretariat

    With the Ontario Healthy Communities Coalition we shared ideas on growth patterns that may be appropriate in the Southern First Nations communities. Slides located HERE

    Active transportation and local food - way finding in Woolwich, Ontario

    We worked with the Township of Woolwich, Waterloo Region Public Health and Healthy Communities Woolwich to produce an active transportation way-finding strategy to identify the active transportation network and locations for local foodsignssign  cyclists  Fall 2014

    Sharing our experiences: "Active City Neighbourhood Audits"

    This fall we presented our work with Toronto Public Health conducting "Active City Neighbourhood Audits" at the (always energizing!) 2014 Complete Streets Forum hosted by the Toronto Centre for Active Transportation
    Holding Clipboard
    TCAT slideSummer 2014  

    Sharing our experiences:"Working With Municipalities" webinar with HC-Link

    This fall Paul shared his experience working with municipalities on promoting better conditions for walking and cycling and a healthier community overall. He reviewed municipal mandates and priorities, how to approach municipalities and what an organization might offer a potential municipal partner.

    HC Link Webinar

    Cycling education workshops for Walk and Roll Peel

    This summer / fall we are providing interactive cycling workshops at schools, community centres & events in Peel Region.
    Peel Workshops

    Pedestrian Circulation Assessment for Port Hope Ontario

    We just finished an analysis of existing policies and street conditions related to pedestrian movement and safety along with recommendations for improving the overall network and crossing points
    Port Hope ReportLower Don Trail Master Plan Underway
    Ped Map

    Active Transportation and Parks Policy Updates 2014:

    Several municipalities are actively updating plans.  We are reviewing municipal plans to include updated demographics, new provincial planning policy, local strategic directions and - very exciting - work that has been done! These include:
    • City of Kawartha Lakes Parks Strategy
    • City of Kawartha Lakes Trails Master Plan
    • Active Transportation Plan for Minden, Ontario
    • Active Transportation Plan for Haliburton Ontario
       Minden Adendum

    Winter 2014

    Active City Audits with Toronto Public Health

    We are working with Toronto Public Health to conduct 10 Active City Audits in Toronto. All the snow makes it easy to see movement patterns while discovering the challenges and opportunities of walking and cycling in Toronto's inner suburbs.

    Audit bike                   Audit 2

    Lower Don Trail Master Plan - Received 2014 Canadian Society of Landscape Architects Regional Award - LINK

    The City of Toronto's "Lower Don Trail Access, Environment + Art Master Plan" is complete and some of the key ideas are going out to tender for construction in 2014!   We assisted DTAH in identifying key opportunities for trail connections. This plan builds on our previous work to improve connections in the valley (scroll down to April 2013). The recent master plan is available here.              

    lower don trail master plan

    Fall 2013

    Speaking engagements

    Paul Young was invited key note presenter for York Region's Public Health planning conference. He spoke on the health impacts of our built environment.  In October Paul spoke at the University of Toronto's Dalla Lana School of Public Health conference on "Building Active Transportation Supports using a Healthy Communities Process". And in November Paul spoke to over 200 delegates at the annual HC-Link conference in Toronto on "Building Environmentally and Socially Healthier Communities". A sample recording is available here.

    Webinar Series: Planning for Healthy Communities

    Paul Young and guests conducted two free webinars on October 22 and 31st for the Ontario Healthy Communities Coalition. Part 1 Influencing Changes to the Built Environment and Part 2 Evaluating Impacts of Development Proposals. Special thanks to Heidi and Brian!
    Model of development

    Trails Plans

    This fall we updated the Trails Master Plan for the City of Kawartha Lakes. Looking forward to a trail ride from Lindsay to Fenlon Falls this spring!

    Spring & Summer 2013

    Building Healthy Corner Stores with Toronto Public Health

    We need easy access to fresh foods in our neighbourhoods.  Working with Toronto Public Health's Food Strategy group and entrepreneur, James Johnson-Piett we put together a day-long workshop with over 50 stakeholders to start a conversation about how corner stores in Toronto might better support health.   Dr. Leia Minaker, Brian Cook, Sarah Vogelzang and Jessica Hambleton shared research on food access in TorontoJames Johnson-Piett then shared his experiences in the U.S. working on Healthy Corner Store conversions. In the afternoon we had a lively discussion and "World Cafe" to set out some strategies and next steps. More information is available here
    Corner Store Workshop

    Community and Government Engagement in Hue and Hoi An, Vietnam

    Hoi An Workshop  Kids after school
    Cities are growing and public space is under increasing pressure to support health and sustainability into the future.  Public Space Workshop worked with Health Bridge Canada's Livable Cities Program in two Vietnamese cities to share experiences on engaging the public and in master planning for parks and open space.   We held several workshops and toured the parks and new community-built playgrounds. Then we set out some strategies to embark on a city-wide parks planning strategy.  For these two cities, working on park improvements was a great entry point for future engagement and planning projects to make cities more livable and healthy.

    lower don aerial viewAccess to Lower Don Valley
    We are excited to be contributing to a vision for the Lower Don River trail system.  In 2011 with the support of OHCC we conducted a stakeholder workshop.  The first report is available HERE In 2013 the City of Toronto initiated a study to develop a long-term vision and implementation framework for improving trail connections, accessibility and public art opportunities in the valley.  We worked with DTAH to develop the vision and look forward to the release of the final report this fall.

    Official Plan Review for Haldimand and Norfolk Counties

    Haldimand and Norfolk Counties have engaged Public Space workshop to review their Official Plans to determine the level of support for active transportation, recreation and food security.

    Winter 2012  

    Working with Municipalities in the North

    How can Public Health work with municipalities to create healthier communities? Thanks to HC Link and the North Bay Parry Sound district health Unit for the opportunity to share partnership examples  . . . including active transportation workshops, official plan reviews, community gardens and food security planning - where to start and who to talk to. It's all recorded here for your viewing enjoyment!

    Presenting at Walk21 Mexico City Conference

    "Public Meetings . . . What Could Go Wrong?" Looking forward to learning from the people working on active transportation in and around Mexico City. Conference link is HERE

    Other recent work

    Supporting Active Transportation in the Official Plan - Guide Available

    Cover for Niagara AT in OP Guide
    Working with Niagara Region Integrated Community Planning and Healthy Living Niagara we produced a guide to help integrate supports for walking and cycling into the Official Plan. The guide is available HERE

    Presenting at Toronto's 2012 Complete Streets Conference

    Another inspirational conference. Thanks to HC Link and the Ontario Healthy Communities Coalition for sponsoring my talk. All presentations including my talk on "widening the scope of engagement in active transportation planning" are available at the Toronto Centre for Active Transportation HERE
    Presenting at complete streets 2012

    Active Transportation planning in Welland

    This spring I was invited to Welland Ontario to assist in strategizing for improved walking and cycling. On the heels of their Bicycle Friendly Community Award, Welland is now on its way to having an active transportation advisory committee in place by fall of this year!
    welland article

    North Bay Examines its Built Environment and the Impacts on Health

    Thanks to HC Link & the Ontario Healthy Communities Coalition and the Healthy Communities team in North Bay. Read more . . .

    Building Healthy Communities Conference St. Johns Newfoundland 

    December 2011, Key Note Speaker,  Link
    CBC news coverage
    CBC's Here and Now news coverage of conference

    Tools for Change conference

    November 2011, Presenter at , "Big Hearts, Small Budgets: Effective Advocacy for Non profits and Citizen Groups in Planning Disputes", Toronto Link

    Walk21 Vancouver

    Walk21 Vancouver,  Presenting "Drums, Dots and Drawings" a metaphor for bringing participants into a process, enabling them to share priorities and then moving into action for design improvements. Link

    Street Party
    Thanks to OHCC, SRCHC for support.

    Official Plan Policy Reviews

    We just completed a review of 10 Niagara Municipal Official Plans to see how these policies can best support cycling and walking. Paul just finished a draft of an active transportation guide for future official plan work in the Region. Report is available HERE

    Linking the Don Valley Trail to Communities and Destinations

    Density and green space
    Last summer Paul worked with a number of enthusiastic trail user groups, The Toronto Cyclists Union, Evergreen Brickworks and the City of Toronto to host a workshop to improve connections to and from the trail.

    Report is available HERE

    Georgian Bay Active Transportation Strategy

    In the Spring of 2011, Paul conducted a day long workshop to set out strategic directions for Active Transportation in the Township of Georgian Bay. For the full story
    Georgian Bay AT Plan

    Planning and Engineering Professionals Workshop on Accelerating Supports for Active Transportation in Niagara Region

    Paul coordinated a workshop and drafted a report outlining key action steps for Niagara professionals.  The report and other informative presentations from the workshop are available HERE.

    Report Cover Niagara

    Analyzing Walkability Draft Report

    A research report cataloging various methods for analyzing walkability with professional and stakeholder inputs. We would love to hear your comments or additions, email
    DRAFT Document available HERE.

    Report, Analyzing Walkability

    Fall 2019