Health coalition letter prompts criticism among council

A request to participate in a healthy communities coalition led to some heated debate in Sicamous council.

A request to participate in a healthy communities coalition led to some heated debate in Sicamous council.

Prompting debate was a from Shuswap Healthy Communities Coalition chair Brian Ayotte, asking if a member of staff or council be interested in attending the group’s meetings. District administrator Heidi Frank said the group specifically wanted her to participate, but Mayor Darrell Trouton, who has been attending the coalition’s meetings, felt that he could handle it until such time as the coalition has determined what their mandate is.

Coun. Suzanne Carpenter then raised a couple of issues, the first being why the district isn’t applying for Healthy Communities Grant funding for local governments.

“We’re talking about transport, we’re talking about healthy communities… I thought these grants were amazing,” said Carpenter, adding she would have liked to have participated in related healthy communities webinars.

“I asked if we could set up here. Nothing was forthcoming. I was told that Mayor Trouton was looking after all this. Well, we don’t run a dictatorship here, we run a council, and I felt kind of insulted by that.”

Frank assured Carpenter that anyone could attend the coalition’s meetings.

Coun. Don Richardson then warned about the duplication of duties that can come with participating in such organizations.

“Were identifying a lot of this stuff ourself, we’re doing all these things already, we don’t need another duplication,” said Richardson. “Yes, there’s money out there, but then there will be more strings attached and more stuff to do.”

Carpenter said a similar opinion was expressed by Trouton and that, for her, the coalition is “such an important thing.”

During question period, resident Pam Beech took Richardson to task, asking for specifics on where duplication exists.

Richardson replied with a tangential speech about the difficulties of attracting doctors to the community, and how such initiatives have to go through the health authority.

“We need to put our heads together, because as you’re well aware, we do need doctors here. We’ll be down to one maybe. How do we co-ordinate it?” said Richardson, leaving Beech still wanting an answer to her question about duplication.

“I must have missed something because I’m not understanding where the duplication is and I’m asking you for clarification because you seem to think there’s duplication,” replied Beech.

Coun. Terry Rysz, as acting deputy mayor, intervened, explaining the district is in the process of bringing onboard a new health and wellness co-ordinator, who will help the district achieve its goals around community health.

“So, do you see a community forum of some sort,” asked Beech.

“I do, but we have to start somewhere,” replied Rysz.