New chair to advance health equity in urban planning through City of Surrey collaboration – SFU News
SFU Health Sciences Professor Meghan Winters is partnering with the City of Surrey to advance health equity in British Columbia’s fastest growing city. Newly appointed to a $1.15 million Applied Public Health Chair in Sex, Gender and Healthy Cities, Winters and her collaborators are developing ways to integrate health equity considerations into urban planning. and population health interventions in the city.
The new chair will fund Winters’ REsearch and ACtion for Healthy Cities (REACH-Cities) program, an initiative that focuses on how cities can welcome and support people of all genders – including those in age, race, income or ability groups that have historically been underrepresented in urban planning contexts.
The program has been designed in conjunction with City of Surrey managers in the transport, road safety, social planning, community planning and parks, leisure and culture sectors. It aims to meet the needs of Surrey’s decision-makers, adapt to changing priorities and directions, and integrate into their planning processes.
“I meet the cities where they are,” says Winters, whose research into creating healthy communities won a National Trailblazer Award in 2020. “There are a range of supports the city of Surrey will need, whether it’s about ‘what is equity and how do we measure it?’ or ‘how can we get our hands on data that tells a story about different population groups?’ or ‘how do we support the health of different groups in our communities?’
Winters’ REACH-Cities work will focus on:
• Generate new knowledge on the implementation and impacts of healthy city interventions;
• Develop and apply new approaches to integrate gender equity into decision-making in local, national and international contexts;
• Foster a generation of changemakers, equipped with the expertise to catalyze action towards cities that promote health and health equity for all.
Engage communities across the region and beyond
In addition to the City of Surrey, Winters will collaborate with SFU Surrey, the SFU Library, the SFU Community Engaged Research Initiative, the SFU Knowledge Mobilization Center and Fraser Health, as well as other cities in the Lower Mainland and from across Canada.
“I am delighted with the announcement of REACH-Cities and look forward to supporting Dr Winters and her team over the next six years,” said Stephen Dooley, Chief Executive of SFU Surrey. This project builds on the long-standing partnership between SFU and the City of Surrey.
Winters notes that other cities can also benefit from the tools and approaches developed to assess the gender impacts of their transportation, housing or community development plans.
A portion of the funding provided by the Chair is intended for training and mentoring undergraduate students, graduates, early career researchers and community partners who wish to engage in REACH health equity work. -Cities. Winters will facilitate interdisciplinary learning and knowledge transfer for those engaged in REACH-Cities through workshops, summer institutes and other events.
“It’s really exciting for me to continue this work because I’ve had students who are really passionate about making change happen in their community and in Surrey, so it’s nice to be able to provide them with research opportunities that are in their communities and for me to learn directly from these first-hand experiences [and stories]says Winters.
Program backed by SFU expertise
Although REACH-Cities is a new program, Winters notes that the groundwork for this work was laid by several SFU colleagues and collaborators. Julia Smith, an associate professor of health sciences, has developed a matrix to measure the gendered impacts of the COVID pandemic and will work with Winters to adapt it to assess the impacts of planning policies.
Winters will also collaborate with his SFU health sciences colleagues Travis Salway, an expert in minority sexual health disparities, and Lyana Patrick, an expert in urban Indigenous community planning and the health and well-being of Indigenous communities. .
Other SFU researchers working on gendered experiences in cities will provide support, including Meg Holden and Tiffany Muller Myrdahl in Urban Studies; Jen Marchbank from the Department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies; and Travers, from the Department of Sociology and Anthropology.
The Chair in Applied Public Health award is national recognition for mid-career public health researchers that is offered jointly by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC ) and the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation. Eight prizes totaling $8.05 million were awarded in the 2021 competition.