What is a Healthy City?

    A ‘Healthy City’ is one where all residents, regardless of their background, or what neighbourhood they live in, have access to the physical, social, economic, and environment conditions that promote health and wellbeing. A healthy city is a place where the healthy choice is not only the easy choice, but the logical choice, for everyone. 

    Why is a Healthy City important?

    Health statistics in our community show some of the highest rates of chronic disease in the country. This negatively impacts people’s health, wellness, and our economy. Cities have an important role in promoting health because they plan, make decisions, and offer services in the places where we live, work, and play. This is why it makes good sense for local governments to invest in building environments that make the healthy choice, the logical choice for residents. When everyone has equitable access to programs, services, and conditions that support health, there will be improved health, mental health, inclusion and safety for all.

    What is the Healthy City Strategy?

    The Healthy City Strategy is designed to bring health to the forefront of our decision-making and improve our ability to consider the impact on peoples’ health in everything we do. The Healthy City Strategy will be our long-term plan to improve physical, mental, social and environmental conditions that impact people’s health. This follows what is called, a 'Population Health Approach'. Population Health is an approach that works to improve the health of everyone equally, while reducing the inequities in health between groups (or neighbourhoods).

    What does the Healthy City Strategy aim to accomplish?

    The Healthy City Strategy will be the City’s long-term plan to improve physical, mental, social and environmental conditions that impact people’s health. It’s about making small changes in our neighbourhoods that work to promote mental and physical health, strengthen capacity and create a sustainable healthy future for all. This will be done by focusing on the six pillars of a Healthy City, and their supported healthy city assets, to improve the health and wellness of everyone.  

    How was the Healthy City Strategy started?

    In 2017, the City of St. John’s delivered the first Healthy Communities Forum, bringing together over 100 professionals with diverse backgrounds, with the common goal of improving community health. Working together across sectors to build healthier futures for everyone in St. John’s, and on the Northeast Avalon, was the starting point for change.

    [Photo: Attendees of the Healthy Communities Forum participating in a 'visioning' exercise, led by Dr. Trevor Hancock.]

    In 2018, St. John’s City Council approved the development of Healthy City St. John's and its deliverable, a Healthy City Strategy.

    What are the 'Pillars' and 'Assets' of the Healthy City Strategy?

    Pillars & Assets of a Healthy City

    The strategy is built upon six key pillars and a series of healthy city assets.

    Each pillar has its own respective goal and is supported by a series of healthy city assets. The assets are the unique building blocks that support healthier neighbourhoods. The infographic below shows how each of the pillars and assets fit together to support a healthy city.

    Through our stakeholder engagement, the following list of assets was identified:

    • Adequate (Housing)
    • Suitable (Housing)
    • Affordable (Housing)
    • Mixed-use
    • Walkability & Accessibility
    • Environmental Benefits
    • Parks & Open Space
    • Interaction & Connectivity
    • Active Transportation
    • Public Transportation
    • Social Connections
    • Diversity
    • Access to Food
    • Arts & Culture
    • Neighbourhood Identity and Place-making
    • Mental and Physical Health
    • Early Childhood Development & Lifelong Learning
    • Living Well and Poverty Reduction
    • Safety

    Each neighbourhood in our city is unique. This means that every neighbourhood will have a different approach to developing their healthy city assets.

    How does the Healthy City Strategy support Healthy People?

    To have healthy people, we need to make sure that all residents live in neighbourhoods that support good health and wellbeing. The Healthy City Strategy aims to improve people’s health and wellbeing by addressing the social determinants of health. Some of which are translated below:

    The Healthy City Strategy works to improve the determinants of health by supporting healthy city ‘assets’ for every neighbourhood.

    How can I get involved?

    This initiative needs support and input from various disciplines, sectors, levels of government, and residents from all walks of life. To have a successful Healthy City Strategy we need to collectively work together toward one goal – making St. John’s healthier for everyone.  

    If you or someone you know is working to improve the health of our city, connect with us by email at healthycommunities@stjohns.ca