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March 5, 2018 7:38 AM

Urban planner Gil Penalosa visits Doon campus

On February 23, renowned urban planner Gil Penalosa delivered a keynote presentation to students in Conestoga’s Bachelor of Environmental Public Health (BEPH) degree program.

Conestoga College - Gil Penalosa 2018.jpg
Renowned urban planner Gil Penalosa delivered a keynote presentation to students in Conestoga’s Bachelor of Environmental Public Health degree program on February 23 at the Doon campus.

Penalosa is founder and chair of the board of 8 80 Cities -- an internationally recognized non-profit organization based in Toronto that is named after the belief that if everything we do in our public spaces works for an 8 year-old and an 80 year-old, then it will work for all people. Throughout his career, he has lent his expertise and leadership to more than 200 cities.

“Gil is a well-known expert on the built environment and its impact on health,” said faculty member Cathy Egan. “Last year in BEPH’s Community Health and the Built Environment course, we watched one of Gil’s TED talks which was inspiring, but left us wanting more. We invited Gil to the college and he graciously fit us into his schedule that takes him around the world consulting and inspiring groups of people to create healthier places to live.”

Drawing on his experience in parks management and recreational programming, Penalosa’s keynote highlighted innovative approaches and practical solutions for creating healthier, people-oriented cities that promote sustainable mobility: walking, riding bicycles and using public transit.

“Become champions to finding solutions to the problems,” said Penalosa in his address to students. “Be active citizens and build alliances. If you’re not sitting at the table, the issues that matter to you will be on the menu.”

Egan said Penalosa’s presentation confirmed many of the concepts students have discussed in class, and will aid them in their final assignment when they assess a neighbourhood. 

“I hope it will also inspire them to take action in their own communities outside their work at Conestoga. That is the best way for us to actually make some changes in our world - go out and do it,” said Egan.

Conestoga’s Bachelor of Environmental Public Health is an innovative four-year degree program, delivered at the honours level, that prepares graduates for a number of progressive public and private sector careers as environmental public health professionals. It has been accredited by the Canadian Institute of Public Health Inspectors.

Visit the program page for more information.

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