Planning for Child-Friendly Neighbourhoods in Hamilton: A Case Study Evaluation of the North End Neighbourhood

Amber Lindsay, 2017
Vol. 23 No. 13 ISSN 1702-3548

Cities across the globe are experiencing increasing urbanization, and as a result, more and more children and youth are living in urban neighbourhoods. Neighbourhoods can provide opportunities for children to accumulate physical activity, which is one important indicator of healthy child development. However, auto-centric urban planning practices have contributed to an increasing reliance on parents to drive children to their destinations (Torres, 2009), a trend that is reflected in the low rate of Canadian children meeting daily physical activity guidelines (ParticipACTION, 2015). To support the healthy development of children and youth amidst the challenges of increasing urban densities, municipal governments are adopting the concept of child-friendly cities to build spaces that protect children’s rights to a healthy environment and to embrace policies in the creation of child-friendly neighbourhoods. The goal of this research paper was to evaluate the child-friendliness of the North End neighbourhood in Hamilton, Ontario to identify the built environment attributes that facilitate,
or pose barriers to, children’s physical activity. To complete the analysis, this research involved a review of the literature linking the neighbourhood built environment to children’s physical activity, semi-structured interviews with key informants, an in-person neighbourhood audit, and a critical analysis of the locally focused planning documents that guide land use and development in the study area. Findings demonstrate that the North End is generally supportive of children’s physical activity; however, I identified several limitations of both the existing built environment and the land use policies and guidelines, which informed a set of recommendations to improve the child-friendliness of the neighbourhood overall.