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Planning and Public Health

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Glossary of terms

Access to Opportunity

The ability to reach desired goods, services, activities and destinations. Availability and accessibility of means, ethnicity, sex, age, ability or socio-economic status should not limit access.

Cross Reference: Equity, Inclusion, Health Disparity

Aging in Place

Meeting the desire and ability of people, through appropriate services and assistance. Ability to remain living relatively independently in the community in their current home or an appropriate form of housing.

Cross Reference: Housing Mix

Built Environment

Human-created surroundings that provide the setting for human activities, ranging from large-scale civic districts, commercial and industrial buildings, to neighborhoods and individual homes. Includes parks, road systems, schools, infrastructure and other improvements that form the physical character of a city.

Cross Reference: Healthy Community

Capital Facility

Publicly owned and maintained infrastructure including roads, schools, police, libraries and fire facilities, water and sewer lines, public transit and parks.

Community Identity

Defining qualities that make a community distinctive, unique, interesting or attractive.

Cross Reference: Placemaking

Complete Streets

Streets designed and built for all users which serve pedestrians, bicyclists, transit users, drivers, people with disabilities, the elderly and children equally well.

Cross Reference: Walkability

Design Guidelines

A set of recommendations intended to guide development toward a desired level of quality through the design of the physical environment, which is applied on a discretionary basis relative to the context of development.

Economic Development

The process of raising the level of prosperity and material living in a society by increasing the productivity and efficiency of its economy.

Cross Reference: Prosperity


All people, regardless of ethnicity, socio-economic status, sex, ability or age, have equal opportunity to develop and maintain health through fair and just access to resources for health.

Cross Reference: Inclusion, Health Disparity, People

Form-Based Code

Zoning codes that indicate the physical form of development (as opposed to use), including surrounding streets, blocks and public spaces desired in a particular area, allowing more flexibility in uses and encouraging more unique and context-sensitive designs to create, preserve and revitalize sustainable communities.

Functional Plan

Planning documents that establish long-range goals and objectives to guide city operations and capital development requests. These usually represent achievable goals and actions for specific city departments in providing urban services and facilities.

Green Infrastructure

A strategically planned and managed network of natural areas, parks, greenways, drainage ways, conservation easements, and open space. Conservation value that supports diverse native plant and animal species, maintains natural ecological processes, sustains air and water resources, absorbs and filters storm water, and contributes to the health and quality of life for communities and people.

Cross Reference: Low Impact Development (LID)

Healthy Building

A building that does not adversely affect the health of its occupants or the larger environment. Promotes health and physical activity through the introduction of sustainable design elements, programmed activity spaces and circulation systems.

Healthy Community

Healthy and sustainable places built on a balanced foundation of people, prosperity and planet. The integration of these generates a livable natural and built environment, viable economic development and an equitable social environment.

Cross Reference: Sustainable Development, People, Prosperity, Planet

Health Disparity

Variation in health status between populations, including race or ethnicity, sex, sexual identity, age, disability, socio-economic status and geographic location.

Cross Reference: Accessibility (to Opportunity), Equity, Inclusion

Healthy Food

Food which provide nutrients needed by the body to promote physical and mental well-being. Some typical sources include local agriculture, farmers’ markets, community gardens, grocery stores, healthy corner stores and access to food assistance programs.

Health Status

The health of a person, group or population as indicated by one or more objective measures.

Health Impact Assessment (HIA)

Any combination of qualitative and quantitative methods used to assess the population health consequences of a policy, project, or program that does not have health as its primary objective (i.e., assessing the health consequences of non-health-sector actions).

Housing Mix

A range and variety of housing types, forms, sizes and price points.

Cross Reference: Aging in Place


Designing for physical accessibility and cultural integration of all people, regardless of ethnicity, socio-economic status, sex, ability or age.

Cross Reference: Accessibility (to Opportunity), Equity, Health Disparity


Development of land next to and between existing development. Accommodates growth in an area without expanding the boundaries of development.

Cross Reference: Mixed-use Development


An act or fact of intervening with a condition or a process to change its course.

Cross Reference: Logic Model, Outcome, Performance Measure

Location Efficient Land Use

Residential and commercial development located and designed to maximize accessibility and affordability.

Cross Reference: Mixed-use Development

Logic Model

A plausible cause and effect diagram that depicts how an intervention (such as a policy, strategy, action, project or program) produces the desired short, intermediate and long-term results.

Cross Reference: Intervention, Outcome, Performance Measure

Low Impact Development (LID)

A land planning and engineering design approach to work with nature to manage stormwater as close to its source as possible.

Cross Reference: Green Infrastructure

Mixed-use Development

A building or set of buildings that allows more than one type of use with several different, but compatible and interdependent, land uses located on the same or adjacent lots. All benefit from a variety of activities and uses generated by a mix of complementary developments.

Cross Reference: Infill, Location Efficient Land Use

Natural Environment

The earth's surface and atmosphere necessary to sustain life. Includes all living organisms, air, water, soil and other resources.

Cross Reference: Planet


Result or impact of an intervening policy, strategy or action.

Cross Reference: Performance Measure, Intervention


A society comprising of healthy, informed and engaged individuals, families and communities where human capital and community cohesion are fostered through public participation in local activities and support systems. Socio-economic diversity is valued by providing fair access and equal opportunities to key services (including health, education, transport, housing and recreation).

Cross Reference: Healthy Community, Sustainable Development, Planet, Prosperity

Performance Measure

A metric used to evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of a project, program, action or policy designed to yield a specified outcome.

Cross Reference: Outcome, Intervention

Physical Activity

Bodily movement produced by the contraction of skeletal muscles that increases energy expenditure above the basal level. Can include walking, running, organized sports, household chores, gardening etc.


A multi-faceted approach to the planning, design and management of public spaces. Capitalizes on a local community’s assets, inspiration, and potential; ultimately creating good public spaces or destinations which promote people’s health, happiness and well-being.

Cross Reference: Community Identity


A thriving and resilient economy built on a community’s diverse productive base – its capital assets (including human, cultural, natural and manufactured assets such as building infrastructure), knowledge and institutions (such as businesses and other organizations that contribute to economic activities and producing goods and services).

Cross Reference: Healthy Community, Sustainable Development, People, Prosperity, Economic Development


Natural environment comprising land, water, atmosphere and their natural resources, including ecological systems (living and non-living) that enable people and prosperity to exist.

Cross Reference: Healthy Community, Sustainable Development, Natural Environment, People, Prosperity

Safety & Injury

Actual and perceived reductions in incidence and fear of crime or injury through the effective design and use of the built environment.

Smart Growth

Strategy to achieve more compact, mixed-use, resource efficient and livable communities with a high degree of accessibility, community collaboration, and a strong sense of place.

Cross Reference: Healthy Community, Sustainable Development, People, Prosperity, Planet

Sustainable Development

Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs; suggesting that both economy (prosperity) and society (people) are constrained by environmental (planet) limits.

Cross Reference: Healthy Community, Smart Growth, People, Prosperity, Planet

Transit-Oriented Development (TOD)

The creation of compact, walkable, mixed-use communities centered around high quality public transport.

Urban Form

The arrangement, function and aesthetic qualities of the design of the physical elements within a city, including buildings and streets which overlay the land-use and transport system.

Cross Reference: Form-based Code, Built Environment


Measure of the overall walking conditions in an area. A place is walkable when it has characteristics that invite people to walk.

Cross Reference: Complete Streets