Wellness committee reports to council

by Penny Coles

Cindy Grant (left) at the Wellness Committee public forum last September, one of the sources of the information for a report to council last Monday.

The Town’s wellness committee, new under this term of council, has prioritized nine categories for improvements to the health of Niagara-on-the-Lake residents, with recommendations on how to achieve them.

Chosen based on feedback from a website survey and a public forum held in September, Cindy Grant, chair of the committee, presented the categories to council Monday. They were prioritized in the order of importance as decided by the committee: communication; the environment; pedestrian and bicycle safety; housing options; transportation services; lifelong learning; lifelong physical activity; social connectiveness; and health services.

“The state of wellness in NOTL is good,” Grant assured council.

“The recommendations are for improvement.”

After a year’s work, the recommendations in a summary of the committee’s report require a variety of effort and recourses, and some may be better handled by other Town committees, Grant said.

“Where applicable, specific committees, Town departments or other organizations have been referenced as the most appropriate mechanism for potential implementation.”

The recommendations support the strategic pillars council has chosen for its term, in particular, strong environmental stewardship; an inclusive, integrated, healthy town; a centre of culture, heritage and recreation; mobility choices; and a well-planned built environment, she said.

In the area of communication, the report suggests improvements to the NOTL Community Guide and the Town website: promotion of Niagara 211, a database of community organizations and agencies in the region; sports and recreation programming; Niagara Region EMS Mobile Integrated Health program and services; support through promotion and marketing of recreation and sports programs in all five villages, and preventative health education.

‘If our committee heard once, we heard many, many times: ‘we need x, we already have that, I didn’t know that.’ We need to work at getting a bigger message or more information out.”

Grant also suggested the need for an environmental advisory committee, for education and awareness. The report addresses the issues of bird bangers and chemical sprays, also calling for practices and policies to reduce single-use plastics and mitigate noise and light pollution. The report also recommends a plan for the mitigation of climate control.

Recommendations for housing options consider looking at what is needed to suit all ages, including supportive care, adopting “age in place” strategies, and investigating transitional housing.

To improve transportation, Grant asked council to strongly support the Region’s investigation of an on-demand, point-to-point system.

Once Grant had completed presenting the summary, she asked council, “where do we go from here?” As a committee of council, she said, “We have another three years. How do we start working on this?”

She suggested improving physical activity is important, and might be an area the committee can focus on more easily than some of the others.

The report and its recommendations were received, although the final ones on health care, which is under the jurisdiction of the province, will be forwarded to the riding MPP.

Grant and the committee were recognized for the importance of their recommendations, and thanked for the amount of work they’ve done.