Considerations for Environmental Stewardship
Below is a summary of important considerations for environmental stewardship that align with each of the key factors for healthy communities.
Considerations for Child- and Age-Friendliness
Shade trees can make shared public spaces more accessible for children and seniors, promote physical activity, improve air quality, and also help to offset urban heat.3 Investing in green infrastructure provides not only environmental benefits, but also community benefits through nature programs and day camps for children.3
Public spaces like parks are linked to increased connection between older adults and children as well as increased walking.126 Public spaces that also provide tree canopy or access to bodies of water, have been linked with higher intergenerational interactions while also providing environmental benefits.126
Considerations for Healthy Homes
Access to proper utilities as outlined in the Minimum Housing and Health Standards also has environmental implications. As the Canadian government works towards expanding access to basic utilities such as clean water and electricity, innovative strategies are required to reduce emissions and pollution in a practical and affordable manner.142
Services in Alberta, like the Office of The Utilities Consumer Advocate (UCA) help educate, mediate, and advocate for Albertans, including residential, small business, and farming consumers.143 UCA helps Albertans in understanding renewable (green energy) options. UCA also helps mediate payment arrangements for consumers who need their gas or electricity reconnected, and can link individuals with agencies who provide financial assistance to cover utility and housing rental costs.
Considerations for Neighbourhood Design
Over-development of natural environments or agricultural land can result in high stormwater run-off pollution, increased energy consumption, and more vehicle use.13,16
Considerations for Social Environment
When neighbourhoods promote social cohesion and safety, it can lead to sustainable transportation practices and behaviours.1,13 Community associations can help to address environmental issues by advocating and working with residents within the community (e.g., arranging ride-sharing, etc.).
Considerations for Economic Development
Increased active transportation (e.g., walking, wheeling, and biking) consumes less energy and contributes to lower air pollution.13 Investing in smart-growth design with increased accessibility to local amenities and services can reduce reliance on vehicles, in turn reducing emissions.
Considerations for Food Environment
A food environment including community gardens and an appropriate food waste disposal system encourages recycling, composting, and reduction of solid waste disposal and reduces water pollution due to runoffs or leaching. Appropriate food waste disposal systems protect water and air quality which contributes to community health and food security.86
Considerations for Housing
Multi-generational homes with increased household sizes have been associated with lower resource consumption and waste production.55
Considerations for Natural Environment
Natural environments reduce air pollution and cool the air in dense urban areas.3,13,99 In rural areas, natural and sustainable spaces provide everyday opportunities to connect with nature.2 Overall, green and blue spaces promote mental and social wellbeing while protecting and preserving the natural environment.2,100 Incorporating native species and naturalizing grass turfs can create sustainable landscapes and add biodiversity to neighbourhoods.101
Considerations for Transportation
Climate change will affect transportation across urban and rural communities. Transportation infrastructure is vulnerable to extreme weather.35 By understanding climate change and its potential effects, there is an opportunity to adapt our transportation networks with more sustainable and resilient options.