Design of built and external environments: Shade in local planning and development policies

Learn how local governments can reduce exposure to solar ultraviolet radiation (UVR) in built and external environments by incorporating shade into planning and development policies

Inside this UVR policy pack

Shade in planning and development policies


Ensure that built and external environments are designed and maintained in ways that facilitate healthy behaviour, including reducing UVR exposure1,2,3


Broaden scope and strengthen requirement for shade in local/regional policies2

  • ensure that consideration of shade is incorporated into urban and open space planning and in the approval of planning permits3
  • ensure the consideration of shade when planning and approving public facilities and renovating existing infrastructure including landscape design3
  • increase the provision of sustainable, quality shade in new developments3

Degree of policy adoption*


Current action(s) in Canada

Most municipalities** have land use and development policies that require the preservation of existing trees or replacement of trees in new developments as well as minimum requirements for tree planting in landscaped areas for commercial, residential and industrial zones. However, these policies do little to increase tree canopies and the provision of quality sustainable shade.

Eleven of the 31 municipalities in the Directory have at least one policy document that incorporates the provision of natural (trees) and/or artificial shade structures in land use planning and development practices for public facilities such as parks and streets. Of these municipalities, St. John’s, Halifax, Fredericton, Montréal, Toronto, Region of Peel, Mississauga, and Regina, specifically mention the provision of these structures for shade purposes. Toronto and Halifax indicate skin cancer prevention as a benefit.

Several municipalities also have guidance documents that include considerations for the provision of shade at various sites within the community that complement land use and development policies. In most cases, compliance with these guidance documents is not mandatory. (For more information on municipalities that have adopted guidance documentation for protection from solar UVR, please see Solar UVR guidelines at the local level).

Toronto’s Policy for the Provision of Shade at Parks, Forestry and Recreation Sites is the only stand-alone local shade policy that specifically commits to shade provision at parks, forestry and recreation sites, and facilities within the city that is to be increased incrementally as part of an approach to retrofitting and design.

* Levels of adoption:  Low = very few jurisdictions have adopted evidence-informed policy action; Medium = some, but not all jurisdictions have adopted evidence-informed policy action; High = most jurisdictions have adopted evidence-informed policy action.

** Prevention Policies Directory captures information for 31 Canadian municipalities (18 largest municipalities in Canada, and at least 1-2 largest municipalities in all other provinces/territories).


1 World Cancer Research Fund International (2009). Policy and Action for Cancer Prevention. Retrieved from:

2 Cancer Care Ontario (2016). Prevention System Quality Index. Retrieved from:

3 SunSmart Victoria. (2015). Policy Statements and Actions. Retrieved from: