Mixed-use, high-density communities better for health and the economy

Mixed-use, high-density communities better for health and the economy

High-density neighbourhoods are making a comeback. After 40 years of sprawling suburban design, planners, governments and home-owners are realizing the benefits of compact communities.
"As the price of gasoline continues to rise and more people choose to walk instead of taking the car, the appeal of neighbourhoods with a mix of housing, stores and parks is becoming clear," says [insert full name of program coordinator, job title and place of work] and local coordinator of the iCANwalk program.

iCANwalk is a coalition of various partners, including [insert name of local organization], that supports the development of walkable communities to improve the health of people, the environment and the economy. One of the program's goals is to encourage municipal governments to support neighbourhoods that encourage walking.

"Too many zoning bylaws still favour low-density development at a time when the problems associated with suburban sprawl have never been clearer," says [insert contact's surname]. These communities force people to drive from home to work, stores and parks because it's too far to walk. This kind of building is costly, since it's more expensive to pay for things like sewers and water pipes over such a large area. "Reducing the distance between homes, shops and offices reduces the cost to the public," says [insert contact's surname].

Successful high-density neighbourhoods are a mix of single-family homes, small townhouse complexes and apartment buildings, shops, offices and green space. "When you have all these in one area, where sidewalks and trails make it easy to walk from one to another, people walk more and enjoy a higher quality of life," says [insert contact's name here].

There are lots of ways to make your community a safer, more walkable place. For starters, you could walk or cycle someplace you'd normally drive. On your way, fill out an iCANwalk checklist about where you went, how easy it was and what you saw along the way.

You can also sign the International Charter for Walking and pledge to walk more and take steps to make your community safer for walking. Write or talk to your elected officials about why you think building walkable communities is important.