by Derek Cornet
Close to 100 people gathered Jan. 30 to brainstorm ideas on how to make Meadow Lake and area a healthier place to live.
However, prior to Saskatchewan in Motion Moving Together Symposium, held in the mezzanine at PineRidge Ford Place on Flying Dust First Nation, Mark Fenton – host of the PBS television series America’s Walking – toured Meadow Lake and Flying Dust to determine how well the communities serve those who wish to be more active.
Meadow Lake mayor Gary Vidal guided Fenton through the city, noting he had many positive comments about what the community has already been able to achieve.
“It was very encouraging because much of what he had to say was included in our community draft documents,” Vidal said. “It’s nice to be advised on what we’re doing really well and then offered suggestions on how we can make it better.”
Saskatchewan In Motion steering committee member Anne Duriez was excited to see the results of the meeting. During the morning, participants listened to Fenton talk on how to incorporate healthy living into the design of towns and cities. If communities are built to support active lifestyles and physical activity, Duriez said residents are typically happier, healthier and more knowledgeable on healthy habits.
“We’re learning most children in the country are not active enough,” she said. “What we’re trying to do is find ways Meadow Lake and Flying Dust can increase their opportunities to be active by community design alone.”
In the afternoon, participants were placed in groups where they were given a special task. Each group was asked to come up with a list of potential projects they felt could make a healthy impact. After each table made their selections, a master list was then complied, outlining which projects received the most votes.
Meadow Lake resident Denise Bohn was invited to attend the symposium and said she learned a lot about incorporating healthy living into her day-to-day life. She said people need to be physical throughout the entire day, not just during segregated activities such as visiting the gym.
“Our table came up with ideas geared toward school-age kids and includes a broad range of activities,” Bohn said.
Among the ideas on the list were the promotion of local venues open to the public, restricting traffic on streets during certain hours, a recreation centre and the establishment of a winter festival. Bohn also said her group agreed it would be a good idea to connect the walking path in Lions Park to the one on Flying Dust.
Vidal said it was a fine idea and he’s happy people are talking about the issue.
“I really do think some good will come out of this, but only time will tell,” he said.