KELOWNA TAKING THE LEAD ON HEALTHY CITIES STRATEGY
KELOWNA - Healthy cities lead to healthier citizens — that’s the premise behind a partnership between Kelowna and the Interior Health Authority aimed at nudging citizens towards a healthier lifestyle by improving the design of our neighbourhoods.
Policy manager Danielle Noble-Brandt told councillors today, Feb. 1, the Healthy Cities Strategy is recognition local government can and should influence the overall health of its population through its policies and urban planning.
“How cities are planned and designed not only influences the quality of our air and water, but also the ability of people to get around, where and what type of housing is available, what food can easily be accessed and how safe and connected residents feel in their neighbourhoods,” Noble-Brandt says.
Unfortunately civic planning in the last 40 years has been car-centric, leading to an unhealthy disconnect between people and their neighbourhoods, she says.
“Low density, use-segregated, car-based development that is dependent on high levels of fossil fuel use has led to people spending more time in their cars than on their feet, and more time apart than together,” Noble-Brandt added.
Healthy City Strategy is one of the main pillars of the Healthy City Partnership, a 2014 collaboration between the city, UBC Okanagan and Interior Health Authority.
The strategy identifies transportation, housing, neighbourhood design, food systems, natural environments and community for all ages as main themes.
With Kelowna already aging faster than most cities, community for all ages is the theme staff say they will advance in 2016, completing an age-friendly community assessment and creating a steering committee with the eventual goal of a master plan.
Medical health officer Dr. Sue Pollock described Kelowna as the health authority's leading municipal partner due to its efforts to improve population health.
“This is an internationally recognized approach,” Pollock says.
Mayor Colin Basran praised the healthy city strategies as touching on so many of the other strategies Kelowna has in the works including the recentlly approved pedestrian and bicyling master plan.
A staff steering committee with representatives from the health authority will focus this year on finalizing the committee composition and signing an agreement of collaboration.
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