The built environment has the potential to decrease many risk factors for chronic disease by providing opportunities for physical activity and increased access to healthy food. Healthy built environments are directly impacted by the decisions of municipalities and policy-makers, such as city council members. The 2018 municipal election was an opportunity to educate municipal candidates on the links between the built environment and health so that when decisions regarding development, engineering, and planning arise, council members would have the knowledge and resources to make evidence-informed decisions.
On September 18, 2018, an educational event for municipal candidates and the public was held at the Da Vinci Centre. Guest speaker, Dr. Victoria Barr from BC Healthy Communities and one of the key contributors to the Healthy Built Environment Linkages Toolkit, provided the keynote address. This was combined with a panel discussion to answer key questions throughout the presentation. In addition to Dr. Barr, the panel included Health Promotion Planner, Joanna Carastathis, and Public Health Nutritionist, Ivan Ho. Approximately 30 of the 61 municipal candidates attended the event as well as community members.
Following the presentation, a survey was circulated to learn municipal candidates’ thoughts on building a healthy, thriving city. Overall, candidates were knowledgeable and supportive of healthy built environment features. The Healthy Living team will continue to provide education opportunities for the new council in 2019, as well as partner with city planning and engineering departments to further the knowledge about healthy built environments.