A key public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic is the mandate to stay home and practice physical distancing. In Canada, with essential activities such as grocery shopping, outdoor exercise and transportation, people need to be able to safely navigate dense, urban spaces while staying at least two metres or six feet apart. This pandemic has exacerbated the health inequities across neighbourhoods in cities like Toronto, Canada which are often segregated along racial and income lines. These inequities impact who has access to urban infrastructure that promotes health and quality of life. Safety in a time of COVID-19 goes beyond just exposure to the virus, it is complicated by notions of who belongs where, and who has access to what resources. The built environment has a role in maintaining and promoting physical and mental health during this pandemic and beyond it. This paper puts forwards three considerations for built environment interventions to promote health equitably: (i) addressing structural determinants of health and embedding anti-racist intersectional principles, (ii) revisiting tactical urbanism as a health promotion tool and (iii) rethinking community engagement processes through equity-based placemaking. This paper outlines four built environment interventions in Toronto, Canada that seek to address the challenges in navigating urban space safely in the short term, including street design that prioritizes pedestrians, protected cycling infrastructure, access to inclusive green space and safe, affordable housing. Longer-term strategies to create health-promoting urban environments that are equitable are discussed and may be valuable to other cities with similar urban equity concerns.

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