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Revitalizing Suburban Neighbourhoods with Smart Growth Design: A Case Study of Walkability in the Town Centre of Maple Ridge, BC

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The design of our communities shapes the transportation choices that we make. Transportation choices include active and inactive modes that contribute to recommended levels of physical activity to maintain physical health. Walking, as a form of transportation, is increasingly viewed as an important form of physical activity that contributes to physical health. Community design is an outcome of planning policies. These planning policies, such as Smart Growth, shape the built environment, which influences peoples’ travel behaviour, and this in turn can affects health. The impact of Smart Growth re-­development strategies between 2009 and 2014 are explored through a case study of the Town Centre in Maple Ridge, BC. This study examined the relationship between built environment changes, informed by Smart Growth principles to encourage new residential density and sidewalk improvement projects, and walkability. Walkability in the Town Centre was also compared to overall city walkability, to understand the role of Smart Growth. Through an analysis of WalkScore and My Health My Community health and lifestyle survey data, this study found that walkability was higher in the Town Centre compared to Maple Ridge as a whole due to the Smart Growth planning interventions. Smart Growth planning principles such as compact neighbourhoods, pedestrian friendly design, and mixed land uses, aligned with built environment objectives that are conducive to utilitarian walking, thus effectively promoting utilitarian walking in the Town Centre.
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