Making the community more walkable is a great way to improve the health of those who live here, according to Dr. Charmaine Enns, medical health officer for the North Island. Black Press File Photo

City of Campbell River should encourage people to walk more and drive less, health officer says

In walkable communities, people have better health outcomes and, generally, ‘are happier people’

Dr. Charmaine Enns, medical health officer for the North Island, encourages city council to make it easier for people to walk to where they’re going.

She presented her periodic community health review to city council at a recent meeting and focused on factors that lead to a healthy population – or an unhealthy one.

In order to encourage a healthy population, Enns says, “we tend to put a lot of pressure on people to make good choices and to be responsible as individuals for their health, but the reality is that so many issues that are really determinants of health are happening at the community level, at home or in the family, and often before people have any choice about their life as children. The more we stack up those determinants, the harder it is for people to actually have any type of control over the outcomes of their health and well-being.”

RELATED: Campbell Riverites expected to die sooner, face higher unemployment rates

One of the troubling things Enns sees happening in terms of public health in the region is the percentage of people who are living with a chronic condition like heart disease, asthma, mood and anxiety disorders and arthritis. Over half of the population of Campbell River lives with a chronic condition, compared to 43 per cent province wide.

“The reason I bring this up is that chronic conditions are sensitive to socio-economic and environmental interventions or stimuli,” Enns says, and these can be affected and changed by things like air quality improvements and other infrastructure improvements like making the community more walkable.

“This is a very car-dependent community. Over 85 per cent of people here drive a car to work,” she says, which shows that the community isn’t very walking-friendly.

“Walkability is directly tied to health and health outcomes,” Enns says. “The biggest reduction in terms of disease prevention happens going from sedentary to any action.

“If you park your car at the end of the parking lot instead of near the door, you’re going to have a benefit.”

So, naturally, the more the city can do to encourage people to walk a little more – and drive a little less – will be good for the health of those who live here, Enns says, citing a “really sophisticated and wonderful study” that just came out of the Lower Mainland that looked at the cost of healthcare and the amount of disease, comparing walkable versus car-dependant communities.

“The amount of money that is spent on healthcare-related costs is significantly higher in car dependant areas than in communities that are walkable. They also found a significant relationship between health outcomes and reduced healthcare costs when neighbourhoods had parks.”

In walkable communities, Enns says, people are 42 per cent less likely to be obese, 39 per cent less likely to have diabetes, “and they are happier people.”

“This isn’t about being an athlete,” she says. “This isn’t about buying expensive equipment. This is just about walking. Moving. You’re going to see substantial health benefits.”

For its part, council is looking to address some of these issues in its upcoming Master Transportation Plan as well as its review of the Urban Containment Boundary, which will decide, in part, where and how the community wants to grow in the future.



miked@campbellrivermirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Shawn Decaire does a blessing ceremony for the Hama?Elas Community Kitchen in Campbell River. Photo by Marc Kitteringham, Campbell River Mirror
Community Kitchen blessed by Laichwiltach First Nation

Hama?Elas Community Kitchen will provide safe place to eat for Campbell River’s vulnerable

A photo from 2017, of Nuchatlaht First Nation members outside court after filing a land title case in B.C. ( Submitted photo/Nuchatlaht First Nation).
Vancouver Island First Nation calls on B.C. to honour UNDRIP in historic title case

Nuchatlaht First Nation says Crown counsel continues to stall the case using the ‘distasteful’ argument that the Nation ‘abandoned’ their land

Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement forecasting windy weather Sunday and Monday. (News Bulletin file photo)
More windy weather on the way for Vancouver Island

Environment Canada issues special weather statement for Victoria, east coast of Island, north Island

West Vancouver Island’s Ehattesaht First Nation continues lock down after 9 active cases were reported today after a visitor tested positive last week. (Ehattesaht First Nation/Facebook)
Ehattesaht First Nation’s COVID-19 nightmare: nine active cases, a storm and a power outage

The Vancouver Island First Nation in a lockdown since the first case was reported last week

North Island mayors say their voices should be heard by DFO before final decisions are made about fish farms. (Black Press file photo)
Mayors asking to be let in on fish farm consultations

DFO evaluating 18 Discovery Island fish farms and transitioning from open-net farms

Mary Cox and Jack Plant dance in their pyjamas and slippers at the morning pyjama dance during the Rhythm Reelers’ 25 Annual Rally in the Valley Square Dance Festival in Chilliwack on June 4, 2011. Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 is Square Dancing Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Nov. 29 to Dec. 5

Square Dancing Day, Disability Day and International Ninja Day are all coming up this week

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Kevin Bieksa during his days playing with the Vancouver Canucks. (Photo: commons.wikimedia.org)
Bieksa to guest on free Canucks Alumni ‘Hot Stove’ on Zoom app

Former NHL player has become a game analyst on Sportsnet

A small crash in the water south of Courtenay Saturday afternoon. Two men had to be rescued, but reports indicate there were no serious injuries. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Small plane crash in Comox Valley waters Saturday afternoon

Two rescued from plane that had flipped in water; no serious injuries reported

114 Canadians were appointed Nov. 27 to the Order of Canada. (Governor General of Canada photo)
Indigenous actor, author, elder, leaders appointed to Order of Canada

Outstanding achievement, community dedication and service recognized

The Ahousaht First Nation confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on Nov. 26, 2020. (Westerly file photo)
Ahousaht First Nation on lockdown over COVID-19

“Emotions are high. The anxiety is high. We want our community to pull through.”

Most Read