PlanH Workshop Spurs Development of a Community Health Network in the Strathcona Region

Name of the Event: Planning Together for Sustainability, Health & Well-being
Date: October 17, 2014
Community Host: Campbell River
Health Authority partner: Vancouver Island Health Authority

by Angela Bello

On October 17, 2014, thirty representatives gathered in Campbell River to dig deep into the connections between health and sustainability in their region. Recognizing how the state of our environment impacts our health, and how to plan our cityscape in a way that promotes physical activity, food security, and social connectedness is crucial to gaining the positive outcomes that communities are searching for. 

In the Strathcona region, partners were ready to explore the development of a Community Health Network in the Strathcona Regional District (SRD) as a way of moving forward together to build healthier communities. The SRD had prioritized health and wellness in their 2014 Strategic Plan.

“A Community Health Network (CHN) is a mechanism for citizens to come together and speak with a collective voice on health issues and to share ideas and resources to build healthier communities. A CHN aims to improve health and well-being by focusing on the social determinants of health broadly described as the circumstances in which people are born, grow up, live, work and age, as well as, the systems put in place to deal with illness.” – SRD Staff Report.

As a result of the workshop, one participant shared that they gained “insight into why it’s important for communities to take the lead in planning and how Island Health can work with communities to augment that planning…and how to ensure small, remote communities will have their voices heard within that structure.”

Notably, stakeholders who participated in the workshop expressed significant support and interest in developing a CHN. Island Health boosted the momentum by offering support through a new part-time position, to coordinate development of the CHN.

A report submitted on November 5th to the SRD Board by Russ Hotsenpiller, Chief Administrative Officer, and Sheila Van Nus, Special Projects/Sustainability Manager, recommended that this initiative be pursued, given the broad base of support and interest in the project that was evident from the workshop.

“There is a need for the CHN – I am encouraged to see the enthusiasm to continue this idea.” – Participant Feedback

Next steps in the process of forming the CHN include working across sectors and bringing more community groups into this critical conversation to further improve health and well-being in the region.

“This workshop acted as a tool to address collaborations, partnerships and community engagement for healthy and sustainable communities… A community health network would create change by identifying local health issues and bringing together the people and resources best able to develop community-based solutions.” – Mayor Schooner, Published Council Minutes from the Village of Tahsis, October 21, 2014.

Find a description of the PlanH workshop here.