Many councils across the province use advisory committees to help guide decision making and come up with fresh, new ideas that contribute to the well-being of their residents. While some municipalities take advantage of this opportunity to tap into citizen expertise more that others, North Grenville council is focused on using the input of their advisory committees to make the municipality a great place to live.
On May 21, 2019, council approved new terms of reference for four existing advisory committees (Accessibility, Active Transportation, Community and Economic Development, and Heritage) and four brand new advisory committees (Agriculture and Rural Affairs, Arts and Culture, Environmental Action, Health, Wellness and Fitness). These eight committees meet monthly to discuss issues and bring recommendations to council related to their terms of reference and mandate.
Local fitness trainer Stacey Dickson has been a member of the Health, Wellness and Fitness Advisory Committee since it was formed in May 2019. As a newcomer to North Grenville at the time, Stacey says she applied to be on the committee as a way to get more involved and offer her experience, skills and knowledge to the community. “I thought that I would be a good team member, so I applied, and I got picked, which was great.”
Stacey says a lot of thought is put into appointing members of the public to advisory committees. When it comes to the Health, Wellness and Fitness Advisory Committee, voting members are considered if they are: influential decision makers within the health profession, possess unique skills and/or experience that will benefit the work of the committee, have a good or unique understanding of the local health, wellness and fitness climate, and are prepared to commit to the responsibilities and duties of being on the committee. At least one member must be under the age of 25, and they make an effort to ensure the committee is gender balanced.
“We have a doctor who sits on the committee, we have a nurse, we have fitness professionals, and then there’s just general wellness people who have lots of experience in all these different areas,” Stacey says.
According to Stacey, the purpose of the Health, Wellness and Fitness Advisory Committee is to provide awareness and raise initiatives for residents related to health, wellbeing and fitness. As wellness champions in the community, they take information and input back to council about local health trends and how the municipality can get involved. “We’re kind of like that liaison between the people and the municipality.”
Stacey says this council is extremely open and receptive to what the committee has to offer. The committee has been consulted when it comes to the redesign of Riverside Park, and council jumped right on board when they suggested that the municipality participate in the national ParticipACTION Better Community Challenge throughout the month of June. “I think it’s quite brilliant, really, because council can’t do it all,” she says.
“To actually have these committees for the public to have their input and to participate in what happens in their community is great. They’re actually listening to what it is that the residents of North Grenville need and want.”
Stacey gets a great sense of purpose from being a part of the Health, Wellness and Fitness Advisory Committee. She feels like she is contributing to the well-being of the community, which is very important to her. “I want to live in a community that’s active and well and healthy,” she says. “I feel that I can influence and encourage and motivate my community to be that way, and to keep it that way, and it just makes me feel like I’m doing my part.”
The Health, Wellness and Fitness Advisory Committee is currently meeting more regularly to focus on the ParticipACTION Community Better Challenge. They hope to get as many residents as possible moving, and be named Canada’s most active community, with a grand prize of $100,000 which will be put towards improving municipal parks throughout North Grenville. To sign up visit: www.participaction.com/en-ca/programs/community-challenge