The City of Vancouver recently released an online dashboard to help residents understand how they can help reduce systemic inequities within their communities.
The Healthy City Strategy was designed with public input from over 10,000 people, as well as leaders and representatives from governmental and non-government-led initiatives in 2013. The plan was approved in 2014 by the Vancouver City Council, and lays out how the city will make Vancouver a more “healthy city for all” by 2025.
“What’s on the dashboard now is a selection from the original indicators that were approved by council in 2014,” says Peter Marriott, social planner for equity, research and data at the City of Vancouver.
“What we want to do is branch out as the city passes new strategies that touch on the social determinants of health … to identify indicators that we want to track and engage with in an ongoing way,” Marriott says.
The strategy comprises 13 long-term goals in support of the well-being of residents, as well as targets and indicators for how to achieve them.
“By providing the data in a more engaging way it’s partly a transparency tool, and being able to see both how organizations are doing their own planning and how the city is prioritizing resources,” says Marriott.
“Hopefully it’s also a tool for the community to hold the city accountable and say, ‘You’ve set these goals and nothing is happening, what are you going to do about it?’”
One of the goals identifies the need for “85 per cent of Vancouver’s children being developmentally ready for school when they enter kindergarten” by 2025.
Additional goals include having a healthy, just and sustainable food system, the need for equitable access to high-quality social, community, and health services, and adequate income to cover basic necessities.
These goals encompass the “social determinants of health,” and the social and economic factors “that enable all of us to enjoy the highest level of health and well-being possible,” according to the city dashboard.
Twenty-three indicators are being used to measure progress made on each of them.
For example, the homelessness count tracks progress being made in the area of affordable housing and shows a significant increase in the number of people experiencing homelessness since the plan was first created in 2014, peaking at 2,223 persons in 2019 and dropping to 2,095 in 2020.
The indicator for early childhood development identifies disparities between city neighbourhoods for the number of kindergarten children ready to enter school.
Riley Park-South Cambie saw an increase of sixteen per cent in 2019, from 64 per cent in 2016, while Strathcona dropped sixteen per cent in 2019, from 48 per cent in 2016. The city average increased from 64 to 65 per cent in the same period.
The only target reached since the plan’s approval was for natural habitat restoration with 37 hectares having been restored by 2021.
“In some ways, we’re trying to catch up to where we wanted to be at the start of the Healthy City Strategy,” Marriott says. “But we’re also trying to respond to the moment we’re in.”
“Obviously data is the beginning of the conversation, and so you take this one number and then start to ask more questions about it.”
Marriott says a new user guide is expected to be released at the beginning of this month.