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Under each of the seven tactics, you will see these icons

Click on each one of them for ways you can apply them within each tactic.

Location icon
Urban / Rural icon
Residences (Dwellings)
Equity, Diversity and Inclusion icon
Equity, Diversity, Inclusion
Accessibility icon
Age-friendly icon
Weather icon

Anyone can be a neighbourhood placemaker! There’s no need to wait for community organizations or public officials to take the lead.

Describe Your Neighbourhood

Create Neighbourhoods for Everyone

Find Out What’s in Your Neighbourhood

Activate Your Neighbourhood

Describe Your Neighbourhood

Your neighbourhood has different characteristics to consider when planning the activities that would be best suited to it. Here are a few considerations to note:

Location icon

Urban, Rural, Remote

Canada’s landscape includes big cities, small towns, rural, remote, and isolated areas. Most Canadians live near our southern border, but many live in the beautiful northern parts of our provinces and territories. Neighbourhoods look quite different depending on where you live, and so too will the types of changes that encourage more physical activity in your neighbourhood. Some activities in the tactical guide will work better in some neighbourhoods than others. That’s for you (and your neighbours) to decide. Check out the Tools section for ways to “deconstruct and reconstruct” some of the ideas to fit your neighbourhood context.

For those who describe their neighbourhood as “rural” or “small,” check out Healthy Rural Communities Toolkit: A Guide for Rural Communities

For those who live in more remote and isolated areas, consider the following ways to increase physical activity:

  • Integrate physical activity as part of daily life
  • Incorporate physical activity with other community initiatives (e.g., gatherings, other health promotion activities and events)
  • Connect physical activity to land, food, healing, resilience, and well-being
  • Focus on moving-to-the-land and on-the-land programs involving traditional activities such as hunting and snowshoeing
  • Work with recreation leaders, health professionals, social services and other community leaders to help implement different ideas
(Source: POWER UP! Coalition Linking Action and Science for Prevention. Evidence synthesis: Promotion of physical activity in rural, remote, northern, and natural settings. School of Public Health, University of Alberta. 2015)
Urban / Rural icon

Residences (Dwellings)

We live in houses, apartment buildings, townhomes, yurts, assisted living residences, and sometimes temporary shelters. Consider all the different types of housing in your neighbourhood and the opportunities and challenges each may pose in fostering physical activity and social connectedness.

Learn more about dwelling types using this reference guide.

Create Neighbourhoods for Everyone

Celebrate the differences of the people who live and play around you. Consider the following lenses when activating your neighbourhoods for or with your neighbours:

Equity, Diversity and Inclusion icon

Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI)

Planning for greater social connectivity and physical activity through an equitable, diverse and inclusive lens means redistributing resources, opportunities, and power to those with the least. Ask yourself, “who benefits from these activities and programs ? Why do they benefit? Who is left out?” An EDI lens can help you understand the barriers to participation and meet the needs of diverse population groups for a more inclusive neighbourhood.

For more information:

Accessibility icon


Everyone needs and deserves opportunities for social interaction and physical activity. Providing access to welcoming and inviting spaces where this happens plays an important role in creating safe and well-functioning communities. Many places across Canada have published accessibility acts to outline standards for ensuring broad access to goods and services, transportation, safe employment, built environment, and education, as well as to receiving, understanding, and sharing information.

For more information:

Age-friendly icon


Healthy communities ensure that people of all ages — from young children all the way up to older adults ­­— can learn, work, play, and live in safe, enjoyable, active communities.

For more information:

Weather icon

And, of course, don’t forget Seasonality … or as Canadians like to talk about … the weather!

Canada’s varied weather brings different opportunities to stay physically and socially active. We enjoy four seasons that feature changing, and sometimes extreme, temperatures; different conditions including rain, snow, heavy winds, and intense humidity — sometimes all in one day!!

The changing seasons provide opportunities to vary your activities (e.g., community gardens, running/wheeling through a neighbour’s sprinkler, wheelchair basketball, boccia in the warm months; skating, sledge hockey, or cross-country skiing when its colder), or to adapt the same activities for different weather (e.g., walking and hiking in rain boots, winter boots or snowshoes). Try coming up with fun, theme-related activities that match the season (e.g., a pumpkin walk and wheel or a festive holiday light display)!

Embracing the changing weather can lead to the most inviting and enjoyable placemaking efforts. With a weatherproof lens, you can adapt activities that treat the weather as an asset, regardless of the conditions.

For more information:

Find Out What's in Your Neighbourhood

A good way to start re-imagining your neighbourhood for greater physical and social activity is by finding out what already exists. Does your neighbourhood have sidewalks where you can walk/wheel or meet up with your neighbours? Can you use the curbs to do little step-ups to add some vigour to your walk? Is there a bench in a local park or on a neighbour’s lot where you could sit and chat with your neighbours? Are there curb cuts on the sidewalks to enhance accessibility? What about nearby trails or a community garden that you could use?

A simple walk around can prompt you to think about the assets and resources that exist in your neighbourhood that can be used to encourage movement and bring neighbours together. You may also see some deficits that you, together with your neighbours, can try to improve.

You can make a simple check list or use a more formal “audit” tool. We have provided some different audit tools for you to use “as is” or change them to address your needs.

  1. 8 80 Walk Audit Tool
  2. The Place Game: How We Make the Community the Expert
  3. AARP Walk Audit Tool Kit
  4. Sustainable Communities — A Guide to Community Asset Mapping

Activate Your Neighbourhood: Repurpose, Rethink, Reimagine!

Once you know who and what your neighbourhood is all about, you can decide on your next steps. Here are seven tactics for activating your neighbourhood:

  1. Naturalize
  2. Activate
  3. Culinize
  4. Spectacalize, Festivalize and Eventify
  5. Aestheticize
  6. Convivialize
  7. Whimsicalize and Gamify

Each of the tactics contains activities, marked with specific symbols, that you can use based on the following:

How I can be active and social in my neighbourhood

Solo Effort icon

Reimagine and repurpose the spaces and places in your neighbourhood to help you move more and be social. There are many no-cost ideas such as simply going for a walk. You can also use the curbs on the street to boost and add a little balance to your walk or use local playground equipment as your outdoor gym.

How I can support my neighbours to be active and social

Support My Neighbours icon

Rethink how you can implement these small-scale activities in your neighbourhood spaces to help your neighbours be more active and socially connected. For example, why not start a vegetable garden in your front yard for all to contribute to and then enjoy the fruits (or vegetables) of your collective labour? Start a stair climbing club in your apartment building, or yarn bomb the trees all around your townhouse complex.

How neighbours, together, can create an active and social neighbourhood

Group Collaboration icon

Enable and empower your neighbours to plan and implement tactical placemaking together. We’ve included some larger-scale activities, some requiring additional costs, that you and your neighbours can plan together to create places to build community, be active, and foster positive social interaction. For no to low cost, host a porch festival and invite neighbours to showcase their talent while others stop by to enjoy the festivities, or organize a pop-up movie night. With a bit more investment, close off the street and host a winter wonderland street party or decorate an alley or other unused space.

How I can identify which activities are physically active or how to add movement to the activity

Active icon

The running shoe symbol beside the title of the activity means it involves physical activity. If you don’t see a running shoe beside the title, look below the description and you will find ideas about how to make the activity more active.

By now you might be asking: Is this allowed?

You might be wondering if it’s permissible to use public space and equipment as we suggest in this Tactical Guide. In many cases, the answer is a resounding YES! Parks, sidewalks, roads, playgrounds and alleyways are resources intended for the wider public to use. Short-term applications or modifications that respect the needs of others are unlikely to be a cause for concern.

So, while many of the ideas in this tactical guide do not require permission and hopefully not forgiveness there may be instances where you will need to get a permit and/or permission from local government to carry them out. Seek help with this from community organizations (e.g., municipal/town council, parks and recreation), especially if you are uncertain. For example, municipal/town staff can help you navigate local bylaws and get needed permits. If they capture the interest of a wider group, some of your placemaking ideas may even prompt bylaw changes that promote a more vibrant neighbourhood. In many communities, neighbourhood placemaking initiatives are encouraged and even funded through grants. Check out the Tools section of this tactical guide to help you navigate these questions and make things happen!

You Can Do It!

Having gone through some of the many tactics and activities in this tactical guide, you can see the importance of placemaking for both physical activity and social connection. Your own space and public space offer so much more opportunities than you may think!

You have the power to reimagine, rethink, and repurpose the space around you for yourself and your neighbours. Try doing things on your own with little or no resources, collaborate with and for others, and don’t hesitate to reach out and engage your neighbourhood leaders to do placemaking on a broader scale. Now is your time to take the tactics and run with them!