Southwestern Public Health along with community leaders, are working to make changes in policies and the physical surroundings in those communities so that healthy living is within reach for individuals of all ages and backgrounds.
A healthy community is a community that makes it easier for people to maintain a high quality of life and productivity, making the healthy choice the easy choice.
A healthy community design offers opportunities for people to be physically active and socially engaged as part of their daily routine, improving the physical and mental health of its residents. Environments such as our homes, schools, workplaces and neighbourhoods can either encourage, or discourage health. For example, our environment can make it very difficult to be physically active if there is a lack of bike lanes, facilities, sidewalks, and places to go within a short commute.
Local governments play an important role in building healthy, active and prosperous communities. A municipality’s services, programs, facilities, policies and planning processes help ensure residents have opportunities to make healthy choices where they live, work, learn and play.
Decisions made by council can have lasting health effects in the community. For example:
- Deciding to include paved shoulders on Sunset Rd to Port Stanley has resulted in approximately one hundred cyclists per day biking to and from Port Stanley on warm weekends.
- The County of Elgin recently considered health impacts in their decision to ban the use of E-cigarettes in County buildings.
The role of a municipal leader in creating or championing health in their community cannot be overstated.
“Many would be surprised to learn that the greatest contribution to the health of the nation over the past 150 years was made, not by doctors or hospitals, but by local governments.”
Dr. Jessie Parfitt, public health physician and author of The Health of a City.
Check out some of the health issues that matter at the council table: