Month: March 2017

Our Healthy Avalon

Editor’s Note: Happy City is rolling out new working groups that will focus on the key action areas we keep hearing about here in St. John’s. More and more often you’ll be hearing perspectives from these groups on our blog and social media feeds. Along with Healthy Cities, our other working group areas are Economy, Finances and Affordability, Community and Cultural Life, Built Environment, Transportation, Democratic Processes, and Winter City. Want to get involved in one? Drop us a line at

Now over to two members of our Healthy Cities working group!

Our Healthy Avalon

Nate Taylor and Bruce Knox

The design of our community determines our health. The Northeast Avalon region suffers from high rates of preventable disease and our built environment plays an often-underappreciated role. Our cities, neighbourhoods, roads, and trails influence our activity and our health.

Growing up we had little influence on the design of our communities. Our parents chose our house and our community – based on their incomes of course. We had no influence on the number of parks, sidewalks, or trails within our respective neighbourhoods or communities.

At a recent Healthy Cities working group meeting, it was noted that many of us carry forward that sense of disconnect between how we live, and how we want to live. There remains a sense that we do not have influence over the design of our urban environment. We have become taller versions of our 11-year-old selves, and though we hung up our ‘pants-that-zip-into-shorts’ a long time ago, not all of us feel like our neighbourhoods are designed the way we want them to be (To be fair, Bruce noted “Some of us still have those pants.”). The deliberations of policy-makers, planners, and developers seem distant from our everyday commutes to school, work, and play. Shouldn’t we all have a say in the design of our respective communities?

With a better-designed future in mind, 15 communities have come together to work toward a regional plan for the Northeast Avalon. As CBC News reports:

“The plan will focus on seven themes: municipal services, transportation, environment, governance, economy, development and collaboration.”1

We at Happy City believe these to be key issues to consider in the design of our future. That being said, neighbourhood design matters for health, and health is a provincial and regional priority that can pay long-term dividends. Let’s bring health into the conversation. Moreover, if YOU have ideas there are many ways you can make them heard!

Start the conversation with us @happycitySJ. Tweet us a photo and show us what #healthycities means to you! If you have an 11 year old in your house, get their thoughts on how they would make their community healthier, and tweet their ideas and photos too. If you are an 11 year old, remember that your ideas on regional planning matter, now and in the future. And in the meantime, enjoy the freedom of zipping your pants into shorts anytime the weather warms up….live the dream.

Nate Taylor is a student of Public Health at Memorial University unable to resist the gravitational attraction to Newfoundland.

Bruce Knox is a Health Promotion and Communications Coordinator with Heart & Stroke by day, an experimental home cook and outdoor recreationist by night.

The Happy City Healthy Cities working group is: Nate Taylor, Josh Smee, Bruce Knox, Dr. Catherine Mah, Dr. Dan Fuller, and Dr. Victor Maddelana with contributions from Pablo Navarro, Dr. Martha Traverso-Ypez and Lisa Woodrow

Contact us @happycitysj and at

To get updates on the regional plan and become part of the process visit online, or check out @ouravalon on twitter!


1.Barry, G. Municipalities look to renew northeast Avalon regional plan. CBC News (2017). at <>

Municipal Election Summit 2017

In just over six months, communities across Newfoundland and Labrador will go to the polls. On April 1st, a day-long summit in St. John’s will help equip citizens with the skills and knowledge they need to participate in municipal elections, whether as candidates, members of campaign teams, or informed voters.

Organized in partnership with Memorial University and Municipalities NL, the Summit will offer attendees a chance to learn from people who have been involved at every level of the Municipal process. Shannie Duff, Lynn Hammond, Ross Reid, Ronald Penney, Josh Taylor, and many others will lead discussions about how the municipal system works and how to participate in it effectively. We’ll have a detailed agenda posted here soon!

The Summit will include a keynote address from Lindell Smith, recently elected – at age 26 – to Council in Halifax, NS. A community activist who became only the second African-Canadian to be elected to council in Halifax’s history, Councillor Smith is a great example of how municipal politics can be a place for diverse voices to thrive.

The Municipal Election Summit will be held at Memorial University on Saturday, April 1st in room A-1043 in the Arts Building, from 9 AM to 4 PM.

The Municipal Election Summit will be held at Memorial University on Saturday, April 1st in room A-1043 in the Arts Building, from 9 AM to 4 PM


8:30 AM – 9 AM: Registration, mingle, and coffee

9 AM – 10:30 AM: 1st Panel Discussion followed by Q & A: Issues affecting Municipal Politics in St. John’s

10:30 AM – 10:45 AM: Refreshment break

10:45 AM – 12:05 PM: 2nd Panel Discussion followed by Q & A: Municipal Campaigning in St. John’s: A “How-to”

12:05 – 12:50 PM: Lunch break*

1 PM – 2 PM: 1st Keynote Speaker followed by Q & A: Shannie Duff, former St. John’s City Councilor, Deputy Mayor, and Mayor

2 PM – 3 PM: 2nd Keynote Speaker followed by Q & A: Lindell Smith, Halifax City Councilor

3 PM – 4 PM: Reception & Meet-and- greet

*Lunch to be provided. Please include any special dietary requests when registering.

Registration for the Summit is free, but space is limited.

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