In this episode, Andrea is joined by Paul Young, an Environmental Health Promoter at South Riverdale Community Health Centre in the east end of Toronto. A few audio gremlins joined as well, so please bear with the occasional sound interruption!
South Riverdale Community Health Centre is located in an area with a lot of industry, so the impact of air and soil pollutionare top of mind for the community. Much of the work that the health centre does is in the area of the built environment- a key determinant of health. This work includes community organizing, building understanding of the determinants of health, and developing policy options that address them. When Paul began to engage the community and decision makers to find out what actions they could take together, the community identified that travel options for people who choose to not drive were important. This was quite some time ago, when bike lanes were more controversial, but the idea had the support of the community at then-councilor Jack Layton. 4 years later, bike lanes were installed on Dundas Street East. The community also started bike repair drop-ins for people in the city that rely on bikes to get around. Weekly drop-ins are hosted at Toronto Community Housing locations as well as South Riverdale Community Health Centre. This program is a stepping stone for some clients to become more comfortable at the health centre and access health services. It’s also an opportunity for social connection and meeting new people.
I am a registered landscape architect with over 20 years of experience designing streets, trails and parks. And I am a health promoter. Much of my work is around improving cycling, walking and accessibility. I spend a lot of my free time cycling and walking as well! I believe that by opening up the community design process through meaningful engagement, we can develop alternatives to automobile dependence. I have designed and facilitated many workshops to build both understanding and commitments for active transportation improvements. I go for walks with community groups to assess the built environment. I conduct street design and policy reviews. And I regularly exchange ideas through conference presentations and by teaching.