Squamish, BC – Squamish is about to get a little healthier thanks to a Healthy Communities Collaboration Agreement endorsed by the District of Squamish and Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH). The agreement was recently endorsed by District of Squamish Council, paving the way for new partnership opportunities to address, improve and coordinate community health policy, land use planning and programming decisions.
“Capacity building and collaboration with VCH, as well as other health planners, local agencies, service providers and the public just makes good sense,” says District of Squamish Mayor Patricia Heintzman. “Under this formal partnership agreement, the District will benefit through access to health data, expertise and resources, helping to support and evolve our community health and livability goals as outlined in the Official Community Plan. I’m very pleased to see this partnership come together and appreciate the support we’re receiving from VCH.”
The provincial government launched the Healthy Families BC communities initiative in 2011 to improve the health and well-being of British Columbians. As part of the initiative, health authorities throughout the province are establishing partnerships with local governments to promote health through local policies and actions. The agreement between VCH and the District offers a platform for continued engagement and joint collaboration, and allows for more strategic focus. The agreement addresses means of engagement and communication, meetings, priority setting and reporting.
“Where we live, work, learn and play all contribute to our health,” says Dr. Paul Martiquet, medical health officer at VCH. “Along with the health authorities, local governments play a key role in creating supportive environments and public policies that can help people reduce risk factors related to chronic disease, like smoking, injuries, unhealthy eating, physical inactivity and risky use of alcohol.”
Priority health areas outlined in the agreement include:
- Healthy built environments for healthier, accessible, safer and more connected neighbourhoods;
- Healthy food systems and food security;
- Physical activity and health programming;
- Supporting populations such as seniors, people with special needs, families and youth;
- Mental health and addictions.
Historic and ongoing VCH-District of Squamish collaborations involve several areas and activities including environmental health services; special events and health fairs; and plan and policy reviews (i.e. the 2014 Draft Downtown Neighbourhood Plan). New project-specific collaborations with VCH currently focus on two areas: the BC Healthy Community Society’s PlanH-funded Health Learning Lab
, as well as continued development of recreation programming, such as the recently introduced community-based exercise programs – Neuro Fit and Re Fit.
VCH is responsible for the delivery of $3.4 billion in community, hospital and residential care to more than one million people in communities including Richmond, Vancouver, the North Shore, Sunshine Coast, Sea to Sky corridor, Powell River, Bella Bella and Bella Coola.
Tiffany Akins, Communications Leader
Vancouver Coastal Health