She is outspoken, articulate, and controversial. And she believes that survival of our cities - and our planet - requires a massive culture shift. Jennifer Keesmaat, Toronto’s Chief Planner for 5 years, “a passionate champion for bike lanes, pedestrian-friendly streets, and improved transit” (CBC News) will be keynote speaker at the 55th IMCL Conference on Healthy, 10-Minute Neighborhoods in May. 

Every year, millions of tulips bloom at Ottawa’s Canadian Tulip Festival, May 11 – 21, celebrating the return of spring, and commemorating Canada’s close ties with the Netherlands. The festival is the largest of its kind in the world. In Commissioners Park alone, over 250,000 tulips of 60 different varieties bloom along one kilometer of flower beds and pathways near the Rideau Canal.

Dr. Theresa Tam, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer will speak at the 55th IMCL Conference on Designing Healthy Living, the topic of her new Report on the State of Public Health in CanadaDr. Tam will address “the tremendous potential that changing our built environment has for helping [all to] live healthier lives”. – Her call is relevant for people in cities around the world.

A healthy neighborhood is one in which most trips – to school, shops, services, work, recreation, and public transit can be made by foot or bike within 10 minutes. At the 55th IMCL Conference we shall review some of the most innovative efforts to create healthy 10-minute neighborhoods.

Social health is the foundation for physical health. At the 55th IMCL Conference we shall discuss how findings in public health and social sciences should impact the way planners and urban designers shape neighborhoods. 

Contact with nature has been shown to support health in innumerable ways. At the 55th IMCL conference we will hear about ways in which professionals in public health are working with cities to strengthen their commitment to improving access to nature in the city for physical, mental, and social health reasons, as well as new research findings in the area.

How a neighborhood is designed has a huge impact on the health of its residents.  The environment affects how much exercise we get, how strong our social immune system is, whether we can eat a healthy diet, and whether we have access to the health benefits of nature. While universities are developing this interdisciplinary field of knowledge and skills, city planners and elected officials need to collaborate with those in public health to make our cities more healthy. Please join us at the 55th International Making Cities Livable Conference on “Healthy, 10-Minute Neighborhoods” in Ottawa, May 14-18 to help achieve this.

Is it possible, in this day and age, for a North American city at the heart of a metro area with a million-and-a-half population, to still be walkable and have a transit ridership share of almost one-quarter of all peak-time trips? And is it realistic for such a city to aim for a 50% non-car mode share by the mid-2030’s?

The Canadian capital city, Ottawa, has managed to maintain itself as a truly pleasant walking city in part because of its growing ability to mind the small scale in addition to the large scale. In the last decade or so, it has made some interesting strides in the way it combines planning regulation with enhancement of the public realm. This series of blogs will outline some examples of what Ottawa has been doing.

3.        Contextual infill and new housing forms

Every city has its share of megaprojects, tall buildings, major redevelopments, sports complexes, arts centres, flashy condo towers and starchitect-designed office buildings. But does every city have the sensitivity of the human scale, the feel for the fine-grained detail of its public realm, the attention to small things that add up to pleasant, livable urban environments?

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