Revelstoke's Healthy Communities Project Fosters Strong Partnerships and Tackles Priorities
Revelstoke is surrounded by a beautiful and vast mountainous landscape with many opportunities to engage in physical activity, join community clubs or organizations, and explore the wondrous outdoors. The City has been deemed the 7th most desirable place to live in BC, while also ranking 6th best in BC on the health index. However, the City recognized that there was a need to strengthen their partnership with the Interior Healthy Authority (IH) and community organizations to effectively tackle their three priority areas: poverty, mental health and substance use, and issues affecting youth. The Revelstoke and Area Healthy Community Project, helped build the City’s capacity to address the issues that affect their residents, ultimately resulting in the development of the Healthy Community Scan & Action Plan.
- The City of Revelstoke
- Revelstoke Community Social Development Committee
- Interior Health
- Canadian Cancer Society
- Women’s Shelter
- Community Response Network
- Ministry of Children and Families Development
- Columbia Basin Alliance of Literacy
- Early Childhood Development Committee
- Okanagan College
- School District #19 (Healthy Schools Coordinator)
- Community Connections
- Youth Liaison
- North Columbia Environmental Society
- Selkirk Planning & Design
- Child Care Society
Summary of the Process
Healthy Families BC (HFBC) identified a five-pillar framework that addresses: Physical Activity/Recreation, Healthy Eating/Food Security, Tobacco Reduction, Healthy Built Environment, and Priority Populations. Poverty Reduction and Mental Health/Substance Use are top priorities in Revelstoke’s Integrated Community Sustainability Plan, while the Social Development Committee identified the need to support youth in their 2013/2014 work plan.
As part of the Provincial government’s health promotion plan, the Healthy Communities Initiative was implemented in May 2011. Because of this initiative, IH hired healthy community facilitators who are responsible for collaborating and supporting local governments. With an existing partnership agreement in place between the City of Revelstoke and IH, a 2013 grant from the PlanH Healthy Communities Capacity Building Fund presented an opportunity to further improve community health and build capacity between Revelstoke, IH, and many community stakeholders. With this grant, Revelstoke was able to complete their Healthy Communities Project, which included three key activities:
- Revelstoke Healthy Community Project Photography Exhibit: The City’s Social Development Coordinator noticed that Revelstoke residents were experiencing public input burnout; another survey was not an option. Instead, the City launched a Photography Contest for visual representations responding to the question, “What makes Revelstoke a healthier community?” Ten local photographers submitted an abundance of photos, from which 25 photos were selected. At the end of the three-week photo exhibit, attendees were asked, “What could Revelstoke be doing better?” and answers were entered into a draw. Over 40 people submitted their answers, many of whom were children, which implies that parents and children have meaningful discussions about social issues that affect Revelstoke.
- Multi-sectoral Stakeholder Workshop: On February 12, 2014, 25 participants engaged in a workshop to set community health priorities, and review the draft ‘scan’ and recommended actions. Within each of the 5 pillars established by HFBC, priority actions were identified and voted upon by stakeholders. The following 4 actions were prioritized:
Priority Actions Leader 1 Seek out funding sources to enable sidewalk repair and development to improve the walkability of neighbourhoods and the downtown core; designate safe pedestrian routes with signage and traffic-calming measures where appropriate (e.g. for Seniors and School children). City 2 Continue to implement the Poverty Reduction Strategy (2012) Poverty Reduction Working Group 3 Provide opportunities to improve social connectedness between the community and Revelstoke Mountain Resort (e.g. non-skiing residents can ride the gondola) Revelstoke Mountain Resort, City, Chamber of Commerce 4 Support local, healthy, safe, fair-trade food production and distribution through procurement policies, bylaws and permites (e.g. raising chickens or bees on residential property; access to local food in winter). City
- Health Care Advisory Committee Meetings: Consisting of nine members (six Public-at-Large, one local Interior Healthy Authority, and two council members), the committee addresses the health care needs of residents and promotes the partnership between the City of Revelstoke, IH, and local organizations. The Committee was responsible for reviewing the progress of the projects and provided input to the drafted Healthy Community Scan & Action Plan.
Key Outcomes & Impacts
- Helpful feedback was obtained from community members through the unique photography exhibit community engagement strategy.
- Increased community-wide awareness of what makes Revelstoke a healthy community.
- Helped establish recommended actions and set priorities for the Healthy Community Scan & Action Plan.
- Identified leaders to advance recommendations, actions and priorities.
- Strengthened partnership between City of Revelstoke and Interior Health.
- Established new collaborative partnerships and fortified existing ones between the City of Revelstoke and community organizations.
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*Photo #2 Credit