Community wellbeing assessment tool

Our master plan assessment tool measures the capacity of mixed-use developments to support wellbeing. We identify recommendations and design strategies to boost residents’ long-term health and happiness.

Colourful, isometric illustration showing the concept of a walkable community with icons of people walking, biking, and hanging out on small neighbourhood streets lined with shops, housing, public spaces, parks, benches, places to play, and more

Most people know a great place when they see one. But what ingredients make for a wonderful community?

Happy Cities has spent over a decade conducting research on the links between urban design and wellbeing. We have compiled all this evidence to create a cutting-edge community assessment tool, which measures four overarching design realms and tracks over 80 evidence-based design criteria to identify a project’s wellbeing impact.

We have applied this tool in diverse contexts, including new mixed-use, transit-oriented development (TOD) projects in Metro Vancouver, rural Nova Scotia, and beyond, including:

  • Coronation Park: 2,500+ unit transit-oriented development along the SkyTrain in Port Moody, BC
  • Blue Ocean Estates: 95-unit suburban infill development in Eastern Passage, NS
  • Bainbridge Sperling urban village: Redevelopment of the former Saputo dairy plant into a new mixed-use community in Burnaby, BC
  • Olde Town Hills: Transforming a former golf course into a new family-friendly community in rural Nova Scotia’s South Shore
  • Rosewood Village: Affordable housing master plan in Richmond, BC

Whether you’re building a new mixed-use community on vacant land, redeveloping aging housing stock, or looking to improve the wellbeing performance of an existing area, Happy Cities can help optimize your site design and master plan for human health and happiness.

Design realms

Our master plan assessment tool measures four essential design realms:

  • Location: Does the location offer access to existing urban infrastructure essential to wellbeing?
  • Land use: Does the site plan offer the appropriate mix of land uses, services and opportunities that future residents need?
  • Active mobility: Does the site plan offer mobility options that encourage happier, healthier ways to get around?
  • Joyful spaces: Does the site plan offer places and programming that make people feel comfortable, joyful and welcome?

Through this exercise, Happy Cities analyzes the strengths and challenges to a given site plan or development, with a focus on how the design and location of the project can support wellbeing for future residents and the broader community. Based on this analysis, our experienced team can offer recommendations on how to improve the project’s wellbeing performance, detailed in an actionable and easy-to-implement audit report.

This tool can be customized to suit the context of a given project or community. For example, we created a custom wellbeing assessment methodology for the United Arab Emirates, to track the success and implementation of the country’s new national community design guidelines. For this project, we added an additional focus on measuring on smart systems and cultural expression.

Why does wellbeing matter in community design?

More and more municipalities are prioritizing resident wellbeing, through design guidelines, policy incentives, and more. Our team can provide impactful recommendations to boost wellbeing in your project, including intentional design strategies to boost social connection, physical and mental health, and feelings of belonging, meaning, and inclusion.

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