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St. John’s wants you to tell it how to get healthy

·3 min read

Not content to let the premier’s 10-year Health Accord task force have all the fun, the City of St. John’s decided it wanted a healthy living initiative all its own.

It came Monday in the form of a partnership with Eastern Health called the Healthy City Strategy, and begins with a four-week public engagement initiative to help outline what the plan will be.

“By partnering with the City of St. John’s on this 10-year strategy, we are committing to working together to find solutions that will improve health outcomes for residents and enable them to take steps to improve the overall health of the population,” David Diamond, president and CEO of Eastern Health, said during a media event at city hall. “This strategy is aligned with Eastern Health’s vision of healthy people, healthy communities, which highlights our long-standing commitment to the health and well-being of individuals, families and communities.”

Diamond said there is no price tag on Eastern Health’s contribution to the strategy, but the health authority has the staff and expertise to help. It also offers small grants for some initiatives, as it has with community garden projects in the region.

“We’re absolutely delighted that the city has reached out with the leadership they’ve provided,” he said. “We have lots of expertise in public health and population health.”

He said the authority engages with other municipalities in the rest of the region through community advisory committees.

“So, in a slightly different format, we are actually having these conversations all around the region."

Mayor Danny Breen said the city has been working on healthy living strategies for the past five years, and the new partnership will mirror, to some extent, the work being done by Dr. Pat Parfrey and Sister Elizabeth Davis, co-chairs of the Health Accord task force.

“It is putting a ‘health in all policies’ approach to our decisions that we make as a council,” he said, adopting one of the Health Accord leaders’ favoured terms. “It certainly aligns with what Dr. Parfrey and Sister Elizabeth are doing in their Health Accord work.”

The partners will draw from existing committees and community groups such as Food NL to shape their vision.

“Having a healthy city and a place where people feel that they are healthy, happy … is one of the important strategies of the city,” Breen said. “It’s an important day for us as we move forward to identify what makes a healthy and happy St. John’s, and use those results in our future planning.”

A public engagement survey, active until June 18, can be found online at engagestjohns.ca. After completing the survey, respondents can register to attend a virtual information session tailored for individual neighbourhoods.

Residents can also call Access St. John’s at 311 or 754-CITY to speak with the project team.

A detailed draft of the strategy is expected in September.

Peter Jackson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Telegram

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