At their meeting earlier this week, Airdrie City Council gave their approval to pushing forward on the Blue Zones Project, putting the city one step closer to becoming the first city in Canada to have the designation.
However, despite that approval, Airdrie's Team Lead for Corporate Communications Jill Iverson says there are still a few more hoopes to be jumped through before the project can proceed.
Iverson says, "It does still have to pass through budget and we won't know for sure if it gets through budget until the beginning to middle of December. Once that's through, the Airdrie and Area Health Cooperative also needs to make their final decision to make sure that they're comfortable in moving ahead with it. Once everybody is green-lighting it we will move forward. So it's one step closer to becoming a Blue Zones community, but it's not the final step."
Iverson says the Blue Zones group from the United States has set the budget at $1.5 million for the first three years of the project, $500,000 per year. Council is now in the midst of deliberating the budget for 2019.
Iverson says the feedback they've received from the Blue Zones team indicates that they're excited about Airdrie's efforts to become the healthiest city in Canada and they feel they can help.
"Blue Zones as an organization is certainly interested in Airdrie. It would be something different for them/ This would be their first time in Canada. The difference between Canada's health care system and the system in the U.S. is obviously drastically different. They were really testing the waters to see if they feel like they could still have a benefit here, even with the differences. They did and they would like to move ahead. The community really supported this and they saw that community excitement and see that they could probably make a big difference to our health and they are excited to move forward with us."
Iverson says the Blue Zone Project would just be part of the bigger picture of building a healthy community in the city. "It's one way that we can begin to build that up but there's many other ways that we're looking at doing that. Through our SmartCities Challenge, through the possibility of a health park that the Health Co-op is looking into so, Blue Zones is just one more way in doing that. It would be a significant step for Airdrie to be a leader in health in Canada. It would certainly put us on the map in Canada."
Iverson cautions that even though the project seems very exciting and the provincial government is interested in what the project could do for health care spending costs, the city needs to be responsible with the costs and make sure the benefit is there.
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