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Healthy Communities Conference, Owen Sound, May 11-12, 2010

April 17, 2010

Yet another conference I’ll be at in May (it’s conference season, dontcha know).  This one is all about how to promote health–physical and mental–at the community level, principally through inclusive planning, sustainable food production, shared decision-making procedures, and by getting local leaders to advance health promotion initiatives.  Keynote addresses will be provided by, among others, Ontario Minister of Health Promotion Margarett Best (http://www.margarettbest.onmpp.ca/) and local food champion Freeman Boyd.  Conference url: http://ohcc-ccso.ca/en/webfm_send/439

Amongst presentations and panels, those of most interest to me will be Kim Bergeron’s Blueprint for Developing Healthy Communities and Alignment of Community Engagement, on how to work with and around a community’s built environment to promote health; It’s Just a Job–NOT! Diversifying Your Workforce (Kim Lawson of Community Living, Owen Sound), on the development of inclusive employment opportunities; Promoting Social Inclusion by Building Bridges out of Poverty (Francesca Dobbyn, United Way of Bruce Grey http://www.osaic.com/index.cfm?member=unitedway); and Building Capacity in Haliburton County for Active transportation, on how best to use transportation demand management principles in rural environments.

Things I’ll be researching and pushing all concern matters of local policy: rural transportation initiatives, anti-poverty strategies, meaningful employment opportunities and access to communications technology all impact on physical and mental health, yet Saugeen Shores Council is soft on these matters and in its approach to access in its built environment.  It tends to prioritize infrastructure without paying sufficient attention to the retrofitting of extant buildings and public facilities for adaptive features.  Worse, it seems unconcerned that the artificially high average income of the area (the second highest in the Province, based on pensions and Bruce Power salaries) has tipped the balance of service provision in favour of the favoured few, while service consumption on the part of the rural poor is always increasing.

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