What does the municipality have to do with health and wellness?

John Edwards 

Many assume that the federal or provincial governments address health. In my observations, federal and provincial governments spend most of their funding on getting people back to health after they’ve become ill.  Prevention is an effective and enjoyable way to address overall well-being. While there are other municipal issues that can be categorized under health and wellness, in this article, I am addressing physical activity.

“Only 35% of 5- to-17-year-olds meet the physical activity recommendation within the Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines for Children and Youth…..When children and youth get active, research shows that they have improved self-esteem, which in turn leads to better moods and an overall more positive sense of satisfaction with how they perceive themselves…” (ParticipACTION Report Card on 2018 Physical Activity for Children and Youth)

“Physical inactivity is a major health concern that costs the Canadian economy $6.8 billion dollars each year…and affects over 8 in 10 Canadian adults.” (ParticipACTION Pulse Report)

Okay, so we could probably spend a full year just talking about the problem and talking about the nuances of the issues as there are many layers; including physical, emotional and mental degeneration.   In short, increasing physical movement is a positive health benefit.  Our municipality is the level of government which can have the largest positive effect in making physical activity more available to more people.

A few key ways that our municipality can address health and wellness:

  • The physical design of the community is ensconced in the Official Plan and Zoning regulations of a municipality. Key decisions are made in the official plan to promote a pedestrian, bicycle and wheel-chair friendly community. Opportunities for active mobility should be at the core of designing and planning.
  • Roads and sidewalks need to be designed to promote walking/bicycling as a means of movement, not just in urban areas but in rural areas as well. In this effort, safety considerations become paramount.
  • Recreation facilities and programs to promote movement for all. Since walking is the most available activity to improve physical well-being, trail construction and maintenance is an important rural and urban solution. The Ramsay Greystones Trail is a good example.  The skateboard park, splashpad and playground at Gemmill is another example of local government supporting physical activity. The municipality must continue to improve its current facilities and consider designs which promote physical movement for all ages and abilities.
  • The municipality is directly connected to the Health Unit through the Lanark County level of government. Their leadership and advocacy in the area of public health is important for providing guidance.

Decisions made by the municipality can have a direct impact on individual well-being. Mississippi Mills has the opportunity to be a leader in this area. Waiting for the Federal or Provincial government to provide solutions is a form of inactivity all by itself.  All residents and visitors can benefit from these types of projects. Let’s “Do it”!

I’d be happy to meet for coffee to discuss ideas, and the role that our municipality plays in addressing physical activity. You can connect with me by:

Email: jhedwards@canoekayak.ca

Facebook: John Edwards for Mississippi Mills

Phone: 613-250-0794

 

References:

https://www.participaction.com

https://www.cip-icu.ca/Files/Healthy-Communities

https://www.statcan.gc.ca/eng/blog/cs/physical_activity

http://healthycanadians.gc.ca/publications/department-ministere/state-public-health-status-2016-etat-sante-publique-statut/alt/pdf-eng.pdf