Whitecourt, Alberta

8 80 Neighbourhood Diagnostic

Project Objective

Provide useful tools to evaluate how neighbourhood public spaces are performing for people of all ages.

Info / Share
  • Date: 2021-2022
  • City: Whitecourt, AB
  • Partners: University of Waterloo; University of Alberta’s Housing for Health 
  • Funder: Canadian Parks and Recreation Association (CPRA)  

The 8 80 Neighbourhood Diagnostic: A Common Vision Project in Whitecourt, AB was established in collaboration with the Canadian Parks and Recreation Association, with support from the Public Health Agency of Canada, and delivered in partnership with 8 80 Cities, the University of Waterloo, and the University of Alberta’s Housing for Health team. 

 In early 2020, the Town of Whitecourt was selected by the University of Alberta’s Housing for Health initiative as a site for testing out the 8 80 Cities Diagnostic toolkits. The Housing for Health team was simultaneously working closely with Christenson Developments and Christenson Communities to improve the building amenities, outdoor spaces, programs and activities to support the physical and mental health of residents of an upcoming retirement living community in Whitecourt.

Whitecourt became the perfect pilot site to assess the quality of public spaces, mobility patterns, and civic participation levels of a community.

In the summer and winter of 2021, the 8 80 Cities team travelled to the town to assess how public spaces were performing using a variety of newly developed toolkits from the 8 80 Neighbourhood Diagnostic service to collect data on the performance of mobility and public spaces within the downtown district of Whitecourt. These toolkits were primarily used to help assess and evaluate two key indicators of Whitecourt’s public spaces: 

  • How accessible are public spaces to people of all ages and abilities in neighbourhoods.
  • How are streets and public spaces performing from an age-inclusive 8 80 lens. 

The 8 80 Neighbourhood Diagnostic is intended to provide compelling data and evidence to highlight any existing spatial inequities in the public realm and to inform recommendations to improve physical activity, social connection, and civic engagement opportunities in neighbourhoods for people of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds. This project made way for the creation of a in-depth case study and sharable content in the form of a neighbourhood toolkit. These tools are two of several resources produced as part of the Common Vision project that is supporting more inclusive and healthy neighbourhoods across Canada.

Over a two-week period in the summer and winter of 2021, 8 80 Cities managed to aggregate a series of recommendations for Whitecourt’s public spaces within the downtown core.  These recommendations included:

  • Activating Under-utilized Spaces 
  • Building Stronger Streetscape Design 
  • Creating Safer Connection Points and Stronger Active Mobility Networks 
  • Establishing supportive policies for aging in space 

Some numbers:

  • 2 Observational Study Periods Conducted (Summer and Winter)  
  • 6 Overall Key Recommendations + 16 Site Recommendations 
  • 680+ People Observed 
  • Over 50+ Hours of On-Site Assessment, Observations, and Community Engagement 
  • 1 Case Study with 5 Study Sites 
  • 1 Neighbourhood Toolkit with 3 accessible community tools 


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