Media Release: Public Health wins national competition for innovative approach to measuring neighbourhood design

June 3, 2020

June 3, 2020: Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph (WDG) Public Health has won $50,000 in the second phase of the MaRS Discovery District Healthy Neighbourhoods Design Data Challenge. MaRS is the world’s largest urban innovation hub supporting the health and technology sector. The national competition, in partnership with the Public Health Agency of Canada, asked competitors to identify or create innovative data sets, sources and methodologies to help communities understand and influence how well a neighbourhood can be designed to support the health of its residents. WDG Public Health was one of five finalists competing for the phase two winnings, with both public and private sector entities in the running.

WDG Public Health submitted the Built for Health Index, which was developed with data gathered in partnership with Guelph, Orangeville, Centre Wellington and Shelburne. The Built for Health Index consolidates relevant data into one simple measure by linking how well a community’s design supports walking, cycling and transit use, use of greenspace and natural areas and accessible food options to the health of residents. Essentially, the Index determines if local communities are built to make the healthier choice, the easier choice.

“The design of a community significantly impacts the health and wellbeing of its residents. When communities are designed to make walking, cycling, and accessing nutritious food safe and easy, people are more likely to make those healthy behaviours part of their lives.” said Amy Estill, Manager of Health Promotion. “This challenge provided Public Health with an exciting opportunity to create an easy-to-use tool that municipalities can use to analyze how well their neighbourhoods are built to support health. The Built for Health Index will provide insights to decision makers to help build healthy communities for all residents.”

The Built for Health Index is a prototype. WDG Public Health will continue to develop the Built for Health index and create a version for different sized of communities to use to provide information about how their communities are designed.


Danny Williamson, Communications Specialist
1-800-265-7293 ext. 4376