One family’s quest for a healthy lifestyle led them to Vernon

Cyndy and Peter Chung love to be active. They share their passion for the outdoors with their two young sons, Kenny age 4 and Nicky age 2. In fact, Cyndy and Peter make active living such a priority, they decided to move.

“We visited Vernon, BC, last June and loved it so much,” said Cyndy.  “It seems like every other driveway has a camper van or a boat. Everyone enjoys outdoor things and lots of families are active. Compared to the big city, people seem friendlier and daycare and housing are more affordable. But one of the big reasons we decided to move to Vernon is the active lifestyle. We want our kids to grow up active too.”

Their young sons Kenny and Nicky are well on their way. They are already learning how to ski, paddleboard, snowshoe and swim.  They also do organized hikes.  “Which is very helpful to do as a group because people take turns helping with the small kids who sometimes need to be carried,” laughed Cyndy.  “We are interested in group outings and very interested in cycling education as a family.”

And although Cyndy is teaching Kenny and Nicky how to bike, they won’t be learning to bike to school or the park or Community Centre anytime soon. Without designated bike paths that connect from their home which is separated by a highway, “it’s just not safe. As a family we drive for now,” said Cyndy. “If it was easier we’d use a bike trail; but it’s convenient, faster and safer to drive “

And as for walking her children to school:  “There are no sidewalks to Kenny’s school,” said Cyndy. “So we need to drive him.”

“I think there should be sidewalks especially on streets with schools because there are kids who walk to school, who walk their younger brother or sister,” continued Cyndy, “This is not safe.  This is something we’ve noticed in Vernon: the streets without sidewalks.”

Cyndy and Peter are not alone in noticing this.  Indeed, their new home city is championing two resolutions at this year’s Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) Convention to address safety and transportation equity.

On safety, the City of Vernon is urging the Province “to prioritize safety measures for vulnerable road users such as pedestrians, cyclists and those in wheelchairs and mobility devices.” On Transportation Equity, the City of Vernon urges the Province “to allocate funding more equitably across the province recognizing the deficits for pedestrian, cycling and transit modes.”  (You can find a complete list of this year’s Resolutions here).

From her tone of voice and choice of words, it’s obvious Cyndy and her family made the right move to Vernon. “We love Vernon. There are parks everywhere. It’s a really good place to raise kids or retire.” Cyndy takes a thoughtful moment and reiterates, “More consistent sidewalks and connected safe bike routes would make a huge difference. If there were two things to change, those would be it.”

Cyndy and Peter’s favorite place to go as a family is “Kal” beach (Kalamalka Lake Beaches). They live a five-minute drive away from their beloved spot. There is a wide open road to bike to the beach and many people do, but there’s no connection from their home to this wide open road. “If it were just Peter and I, we’d bike across the highway to get to the beach but with our kids, that gets a bit scary and we don’t think it’s safe.”

“It would be pretty neat to be able to bike to the beach and back.  I started teaching Kenny to bike without training wheels and he can balance for a few seconds. I’ve always imagined our family to get out biking together. I would love to be able to do that.”

If the City of Vernon’s resolutions are ratified at this year’s UBCM Convention and the Province invests in active transportation, Cyndy and her family will be one step closer to realizing that dream.

If you would like safer, comfortable biking and walking routes in your community, please call or write to your MLA and tell BC’s leaders that you support Communities on the Move!


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