COALDALE, AB. – Coaldale is joining Alberta Health Services on a pilot program.

The Healthy Communities Initiative provides municipalities with public health information and guidance which can be used to design communities that better support healthy lifestyles.

Local Medical Health Officer, Dr. Vivien Suttorp says health outcomes such as life expectancy, cancer rates and infant mortality often differ between geographies and also within communities.

She notes one of the best ways to decrease these differences is to first understand community and what’s important to the people who live there. Through the program, Coaldale is able to harness the expertise of AHS health professionals — including dietitians and medical officers of health — to assist with drafting or improving existing policies related to tobacco and alcohol reduction, healthy eating, sun safety, walkability and physical activity.

There is no cost to the Town of Coaldale for participating, and the town is under no obligation to implement any suggestions coming from the pilot program.

About 100 Alberta communities have participated in the initiative since it began in 2016. For instance, after participating in Healthy Communities by Design, the Pincher Creek Wellness Committee decided UV exposure posed a health hazard that could be mitigated. The committee developed a program that enabled community groups to rent shade tents for their events, and later added sunscreen dispensers at key community gathering places, such as the town’s spray park and rodeo grounds.

“Participation in this program will help bring more focus to the benefits of positive public health outcomes for Coaldale through incremental changes to policies and the built form,” says Spencer Croil, Director of Planning and Community Development at the town. “Partnering with Alberta Health Services is just a natural next step to promoting community wellness in Coaldale. We’re very excited to embark on this journey to strengthen our already targeted efforts on improving well-being and making Coaldale more liveable for all members of the community.”

Alberta Health Services is the provincial health authority responsible for planning and delivering health supports and services for more than four million adults and children living in Alberta. Its mission is to provide a patient-focused, quality health system that is accessible and sustainable for all Albertans.

(With files from AHS)