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Regional District of Nanaimo planning to add new health and wellness services for Gabriolans

RDN board approves motions related to health and wellness coordinator
Gabriola Island. (News Bulletin file photo)

A Regional District of Nanaimo director wants to establish a health and well-being service on Gabriola Island.

At a meeting last month, Vanessa Craig, RDN chairperson and Area B director, introduced motions to create a community service position for Gabriola. Job duties would include co-ordinating with organizations and networks involved with health and wellness, aiding with applications for funding and connecting with “service providers, working groups, external partners and residents,” stated a staff report.

A December feasibility report recommended establishing a part-time coordinator initially, receiving direction from the Gabriola Health and Wellness Collaborative. In time, the position would become full-time, with program costs rising from $49,600 to $100,600.

Kim Fowler, RDN manager of long-range planning, energy and sustainability, said there would be a “wide variety” of responsibilities, mentioning facilitating affordable housing programs and providing health information as examples.

“This coordinator, once hired, would work with a board, on-island, to determine what those priorities are, so the list is relatively long and it is meant to be in the very broad sense of health and wellness,” she said.

Craig said her constituents have been asking for this.

“I do have a very active group of volunteers and community members on Gabriola, mostly organized through the community wellness hub of over 50 community groups, who voluntarily meet once a month to try and co-ordinate activities that they do on behalf of the community…” she said. “Volunteers are in high demand and the same people are stepping up and they would like to have a little bit of support.”

The staff report stated that establishing the service would defer or delay work in the regional growth strategy annual report, climate action priorities and development application processing. Lehann Wallace, Area G director, was the lone member voicing dissent.

“I think the main concern I have is I am not in support of [adding] to the 2023 work plan for a service that is outside of our mandate,” she said at the meeting. “I think that if a motion came forward for an establishment service working towards a 2024 financial plan, this would’ve been more palatable … if there were better demonstration of cost recovery, that might be more palatable, but I don’t see that.”

Craig said she hoped the alternate approval process will take place in the fall and estimated the position could begin in 2024.

READ ALSO: RDN board seeks info on Capital Regional Housing Corp.

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Karl Yu

About the Author: Karl Yu

After interning at Vancouver Metro free daily newspaper, I joined Black Press in 2010.
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