Towards a healthy community

Local government can step up by making government-run buildings smoke free zones like at the Nelson and District Community Complex, Robin Cherbo writes.

As a city council part of our mandate is to strive to have and promote a healthy lifestyle and a healthy community.

Some of council recently met with public health officers who wanted to liaison with city councils to see how we can work together for healthy communities. While it is important to have bylaws and regulations it is also important to promote healthy lifestyles. Public health now comes under the huge mandate of the Interior Health Authority in which there are good programs as well as areas that could be improved.

City council promotes and advocates for a healthy community and lifestyles for active living under our Official Community Plan, as well as in areas such as Water and Sewer Master Plan, Downtown/Waterfront Master Plan and we are part of the recreation commission, for examples.

The city continually works to upgrade and improve the infrastructure for water quality.

City council has recently reviewed and prioritized our long list of bylaws that requires updating.

Our first order of business is to develop an adjudication system to fast track enforcement of bylaws in order to get compliance. Included in the list of bylaws that deal directly with public health are anti-idling and anti-smoking regulations. This comes in line with programs though IHA public health, such as plans for safe food, clean water, and clean air along with supporting anti-smoking regulations in public areas.

This also has the support of the Cancer Society who advocate no smoking near public buildings, in public parks and on beaches, which a number of municipalities have added to their no-smoking bylaws. This has been one of my long term goals, to have the City’s no-smoking by-law updated to match other municipalities and to current recommended guidelines.

For example, in May Interior Health announced Smoke Free Champions for Change winners.

Smoking is the number one cause of premature death and a leading cause of preventable hospitalization. According to the World Health Organization, tobacco use kills more than five million people a year — an average of one person every six seconds — and accounts for one in 10 adult deaths.

In line with this, June 8 was promoted as Clean Air Day. In Nelson, our airshed is shared between the City of Nelson, the Regional District of Central Kootenay and private industries.

Obviously there are many aspects to having a healthy community and having the tools to advocate and regulate healthy lifestyles for the majority of the public. Fortunately Nelson is a known as a active and healthy community with the options to be active in many areas, such as walking, hiking, biking trails, just to name a few.

The city continually works to make improvements in many areas and along with the assistance of regional partners such as RDCK and IHA with public health, will continue to improve our standards for healthy living in the community.

Nelson city councillor Robin Cherbo shares this Wednesday space with his colleagues around the table