Urban Planners

Consider sun protection in your plans.

Sun safety matters

Skin Cancer Prevention by Design

The way that our communities are planned and built impacts our health. Designing outdoor spaces with shade in mind can reduce exposure to UVR for skin cancer prevention. Shade also provides thermal comfort and protection from the heat.

Shade offers passive universal protection. Unlike individual sun safety behaviours, like wearing a hat or applying sunscreen, shade does not require that individuals practice the behaviours and remember to do so. Shade cannot be forgotten at home. It’s there when you need it!

When planned correctly, good quality shade can reduce UVR exposure by up to 75%.

An increasing number of settings, organizations and municipalities are recognizing the need for shade and the opportunity to plan for quality shade.

As awareness about the risks associated with UVR increase, so does the demand for outdoor facilities (parks, pools, sports and recreation facilities) to provide adequate shade for UVR protection, especially when they are visited by more vulnerable groups, such as children.

Sun Smart Tools

Shade Audit in Saskatoon

Sun Smart Saskatchewan set out to conduct a shade audit in Saskatoon to:


Demonstrate the process for conducting a shade audit


Highlight positive features and make recommendations for improvements at the shade audit site


Raise awareness about designing outdoor spaces with shade in mind

Sun Smart Saskatchewan can assist with a shade audit or shade planning. Get in touch to start the process!

what you can do

Shade Planning Considerations

There are simple shade planning principles to keep in mind when designing or retrofitting an outdoor space.


Shade play equipment and regularly used activity areas.


Create smaller play structures and zones in order to get the shade closer to the play areas.


Assess shade patterns especially during the Critical Protection Period and place the shade solution to the south and west sides of the area requiring shade.


Ensure the shade structure is an adequate size. Consider the arrangement of existing structures to create a larger shaded area. For example, group several umbrellas together to form a single larger canopy for greater protection.


Use barriers for side as well as overhead protection. Vertical screening with plants and trellises or opaque louvres can help to block indirect UVR radiation, while still allowing breezes to flow through.


Choose trees with wide and dense canopies.


Avoid highly reflective surfaces. Generally, soft or rough surfaces, such as brick pavers and grass reflect less UVR radiation than hard or smooth surfaces, such as concrete. Depending on the site, it may be possible to change an existing surface that reflects higher levels of UVR radiation. For example, in a playground, replace asphalt or concrete with rubber matting, which reflects less UVR radiation and is also a soft-fall material.

Visit UV Ontario for resources for shade policy planning and resources for assessing, planning and implementing shade.

View sources

Guidelines to Shade, Cancer Council NSW, Sydney, 2013.

The Shade Handbook. Cancer Council New South Wales, 2008.

The Shade Policy for the City of Toronto Shade Guidelines. Toronto Cancer Prevention Coalition, 2010.

Shade Audit Information Guide + Tool: A Guide for Creating Shady Outdoor Spaces, Waterloo Region Shade Work Group.