Last week was the annual Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) Convention and Tradeshow and BC Alliance for Healthy Living was thrilled to be part of it. With 2500 government officials, decision-makers and leaders ‘exploring the floor,’ it was a prime opportunity to talk healthy living initiatives with those who represent their communities.

We were part of a public health powerhouse team, taking over a corner of the tradeshow with our neighbours BC Lung Association, Canadian Cancer Society, BCRPA, BCCDC, Diabetes Canada, Dietitians of Canada, and YMCA of Greater VancouverA few rows over, BC Healthy Communities welcomed delegates with comfy chairs and invited them to talk about building healthier communities.

BCAHL, together with our member, BC Lung Association, were kept on our toes providing health information on vaping. Leaders wanted answers to many questions such as: how does a vape or vape pen or e-cigarette actually work? What chemicals are in vape juice?  And why is there little to no public education on vaping or even worse, no marketing restrictions in place?

It was an exciting moment when a councilor from West Kelowna informed our table that Resolution B59 Regulate E-Cigarettes/Vapour Products to Minors which sites the McCreary Centre Society’s 2018 BC Adoelscent Health Survey,  unanimously passed. The resolution calls on the Province to enact strict regulations regarding the marketing and selling of e-cigarettes and vaping products which is one vital way to help turn the tide on the rise in youth vaping.

Municipal leaders were attracted to our main conversation starter – a colourful board survey asking ‘How Active is your Community?’ which animated Move. Commute. Connect., BC’s Active Transportation Strategy.

We picked five central themes to spark important conversations about accessible, age-friendly streets, great public spaces and street furniture, safe bike facilities and cycling education, plus having a dedicated team and a master active transportation plan.  Representatives were proud to place the colourful tacks by what they were already doing in their communities and eager to talk about what they need to do more. Those conversations centred around funding, generating community support, creating or completing a master active transportation plan and having a dedicated person on staff working with community champions.

Another exciting moment was when the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, the Honourable Claire Trevena stopped by and was impressed with the interest and conversations we were having on animating the active transportation strategy.  Well-funded communities are leading the way in creating complete networks and most representatives we spoke with are in the process of creating master plans in order to make their streets accessible, inclusive and safe.  Plus enjoyable to commute (and tour) by rolling, walking, wheeling!

Looking around at our busy public health corner at the UBCM Tradeshow, it was evident how many local government champions share our vision and are working hard to make their community healthy and more vibrant!



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