What is Healthy Families BC Communities?
Healthy Families BC Communities is a new program that encourages partnerships between health authorities and local governments in taking leadership roles in the health and well being of the people in their communities.
Many local governments are already leaders and promoters of healthy living in their communities. To build on this momentum, regional consultations will take place with local governments around the province to find out how best to address their healthy living priorities. These consultations will give communities an opportunity to talk about what policies, programs or services are needed in their community to encourage residents to make healthy lifestyle choices.
How will the consultations proceed?
The Province is working closely with the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) to find out the best way to consult with local governments. UBCM has asked the B.C. Area Local Government Associations for guidance on how to consult with their members on this program.
How will it work?
Regional health authorities will work in partnership with the local governments in interested communities to develop local solutions on how to make their cities or towns healthier.
Why should a community get involved?
British Columbians, as whole, live healthier lifestyles than other Canadians – however, many still consume too much unhealthy foods and beverages and get little physical activity. This contributes to obesity and the development of chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.
How can our community get involved?
While local government policies can play a pivotal role in promoting the health of communities, local government can't create healthier communities alone. It takes the combined effort of everyone, including local businesses, volunteers, organizations, schools, and health services.
Individuals can get involved and provide input through local community groups and public meetings. Non-profit organizations and other community groups, local business leaders, etc. can contribute and share their expertise with their municipalities to develop local priorities and solutions.
What are some examples of projects that Healthy Families BC Communities could be involved with?
There are numerous possibilities. These could include:
- supporting physical activity challenges,
- leading active living initiatives to promote healthy weights,
- developing healthy food policies for schools, recreation centres, seniors' centres, organized sport settings, health care facilities, post-secondary and other educational facilities,
- promoting public education and bylaws prohibiting tobacco smoking in and around public places and spaces, and
- designing common areas, meeting places and open spaces in public places to create opportunities for socializing among residents.
Each community is different. What's needed and what works may be different in the North compared with the Kootnenays. That is why there will be consultations with local governments on the development of the program. Individual communities will then work with their community partners to develop local solutions.
When will the program start in communities?
Local government consultations will take place over the next few months with the intent to roll out Healthy Families BC Communities in early 2012.