Yes, yes and yes! …to the question, referendum and a healthier region!

There’s a storm front moving into the lower mainland on December 11th,   a media storm that is, because that’s the date when the Mayors’ Council will present ‘the question’ for the upcoming transportation referendum that has to be approved by the Provincial government.

Over here at BCAHL, we’re hoping for a yes to the question so we can move to a yes vote on the referendum and say yes to a healthier region.

The proposed transportation investments will see significant improvements in transit capacity and frequency across the region as well as added bike routes, road improvements and a new bridge to replace the Patullo.  Of course, to do all of this will require additional funding and it is precisely the question of ‘how?’ and ‘how much?’ that is creating such a stir.

It is clear that ‘much more’ is needed because as well as addressing regional and economic issues such as congestion, affordability and growth in the region, these transportation investments will also make a considerable difference to the health of people living throughout the lower mainland.  And given that close to half of BC’s population lives here, it’s not an overstatement to say that the outcome of this referendum will impact the health of our province.

In terms of their relationship to chronic disease, public transit and active transportation have multiple benefits that come from increases in physical activity and accessibility, and reductions in localized air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.

People who take transit are 3 times more likely to meet guidelines for physical activity. There are also equity implications. One study found that low-skilled workers were 30% more likely to have a job and to be working more than 30 hours per week when their community was served by public transit. Air quality is also important – reductions in air pollution have been shown to extend life expectancy.

Even the Ministry of Health’s ‘Healthy Families BC Policy Framework’ identifies “transport policies and systems that prioritize walking, cycling and public transport” as evidence-based “best investments” for promoting physical activity.

And so we’re hoping that the BC Government and people in the lower mainland will say ‘yes’ to the transportation investments because there is no question that it’s the healthy choice.

Rita Koutsodimos
Manager, Advocacy and Communications
December 10, 2014

Note: Photo used with permission: / Laura Sandt

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