The City of Fernie is teaming up with Interior Health in an effort to work towards a healthier community. Interior Health’s Healthy Community Initiative aims to increase actions that will improve the overall health of a community by reducing chronic disease and obesity.
The initiative outlines five pillars local governments should be focusing on to reduce risk factors for chronic disease and obesity. ‘Active Living’ looks at improving physical activity opportunities, like walking, biking, and transit. ‘Priority Populations’ aims to improve environments for seniors and children, with advancements in safe routes and school travel planning. Developments to biking, recreating, and pedestrian master plans are covered in ‘Healthy Built Environment’. Bylaws that reduce exposure to second hand smoke will be looked at with ‘Tobacco Reduction’. Lastly, ‘Healthy Eating’ deals with everything from community gardens and local food productions, to bylaws regarding vending machines and fast food outlets.
Also included in the initiative is the Healthy Families B.C. (HFBC) program, which builds on the work already underway within local governments to promote public health in communities.
Now that a partnership has been formed between Fernie and Interior Health, the next step is to begin creating supportive policies and environments. Interior Health suggests revising plans and infrastructure for non-motorized transport and daily commuting, to encourage safer bike lanes and corridors and end of trip facilities for cyclists. Land use planning policies could be altered to promote more walk-able neighborhoods and easier connectivity to transit and stores. Regulations that support smoke-free environments, preserve local farm land, and support community gardens will also be looked at.
For more information on the Healthy Community Initiative, visit www.interiorhealth.ca/yourhealth.