Considerations for COVID-19 Pandemic Recovery

Below is a summary of important considerations for COVID-19 pandemic recovery that align with each of the key factors for healthy communities.


Considerations for Child- and Age-Friendliness

Large open public and private spaces allow for intergenerational interaction while minimizing viral transmission as we work towards COVID-19 recovery. Intergenerational programs, delivered virtually or in-person, can be used to address individual, family, and community needs for social interaction.128 Building play spaces for children and families serves as an environmental enhancement that promotes social interactions and connectedness between different age groups.131

The physical environment plays an important role in the social and emotional development of youth.132 The historical exclusion of adolescents and youth from public landscapes has restricted their freedom to participate in social gatherings and also generated distrust between the public and adolescents, negatively impacting youth’s feelings of connection and belonging to their community.132 It is important to build public and private spaces that are inclusive to adolescents and youth, which allow for social interaction without restrictions and barriers (e.g., strict rules or adult supervision), especially when school closures are in effect.131,132

Considerations for Healthy Homes

Many Canadians now spend much more of their time in their homes due to COVID-19 changes working and learning remotely. As restrictions ease in future months, hybrid work and learning models may become more commonplace, further emphasizing the importance of home environments that promote wellbeing.

Considerations for Neighbourhood Design

When there is flexibility in land use and zoning, vacant buildings can be used as temporary housing or emergency shelters during extreme weather, outbreaks, or disasters. Open spaces can be used as sites for temporary medical facilities.18

Considerations for Social Environment

Community social environments have been heavily impacted by public health measures (e.g., restrictions on gatherings, inability to use community assets such as community leagues or recreation centres). These impacts have increased social isolation and diminished social wellbeing.4 Pandemics – or similar events – can perpetuate age-based and race-based discrimination, with negative implications for people’s safety.5 For example, public health measures to reduce disease transmission can affect perceptions of safety among older people who may be less independent.5 Additionally, stay-at-home orders have brought to light concerns regarding increased domestic violence as a consequence of social isolation.72

Considerations for Economic Development

Local businesses play critical roles in Canada’s economic recovery from COVID-19 through the creation of jobs.117 Local businesses provide income growth, employment growth, and have potential to decrease poverty in the local area.118 In British Columbia, a study found that local retailers recirculated 45% of the revenue compared to the 17% by chain retailers.119 COVID-19 recovery for both chain/franchise and local businesses will mean re-opening to regular capacity and operations thus re-employing and re-building the local economy.120

Considerations for Food Environment

One of the many consequences of COVID-19 has been increased levels of poverty and limited access to food. As we move towards COVID-19 recovery, there is an opportunity to ensure food security and create social safety nets to improve the food environment and reduce social inequalities.89

Considerations for Housing

COVID-19 has emphasized the importance of housing as a basic right for all individuals. Through COVID-19 recovery, it is critical to address the extent of job losses and home evictions that have occurred and consider social support and safety net programs to ensure adequate and accessible housing stability for everyone.56

Investments in wrap-around supportive services are important to help individuals and families address multiple complex needs, including housing. Wrap-around services use a strengths-based approach and build on the existing capacity and assets of individuals and families.148

Considerations for Natural Environment

Parks, open spaces, and natural areas provide areas to participate in socially distanced activities during different stages of a pandemic and throughout pandemic recovery.104 These outdoor spaces provide opportunities and benefits for physical and mental health, including reduced stress for residents in times of crisis.104

Considerations for Transportation

Active transportation networks may be more resilient to pandemics.4 COVID-19 is creating a transportation mode-shift from public transit to active transportation modes such as cycling, wheeling, and walking, but also toward private vehicle usage.4 With a well-designed neighbourhood, people are able to walk, wheel or cycle to nearby amenities and services rather than relying on public transportation or private vehicle use.4