The City of Kelowna's Healthy City Partnership Workshop Proves Collaboration is Essential

In early April the City of Kelowna partnered with Interior Health to host a PlanH workshop: Silos to Systems: Collaborating to Create a Healthy City Strategy for Kelowna facilitated by BC Healthy Communities Society. The following article by Michelle Kam (City of Kelowna) and Julie Steffler (Interior Health) describes the event.

The City of Kelowna has connected with Interior Health and the University of British Columbia Okanagan campus to form the Healthy City Partnership. The Silos to Systems workshop was an opportunity for community partners and staff from the City of Kelowna and Interior Health to collaborate on issues related to a healthy city and to contribute to the vision and development of theme areas for a Healthy City Strategy for Kelowna. 

The Context
Kelowna, like many communities across BC, has an aging population, obesity is on the rise, and residents are driving further every year causing more vehicle related injuries and deaths.  Local governments are uniquely placed to provide leadership for community health as the built environment can influence travel behaviours, physical activity, social wellbeing, lifestyle choices, body weight and chronic disease rates.  

The Workshop
The workshop was an opportunity to discuss these issues and the Kelowna Healthy City Strategy – a long-term, integrative plan that will focus on healthy built environment, community health and quality of life for all Kelowna residents. 

Issues and data related to health were presented from both City of Kelowna and Interior Health perspectives. The health issues presented were an instrumental part in framing the afternoon breakout brainstorming and planning sessions. PlanH Facilitators provided learning tools such as, videos, short lectures, diagrams, writing and drawing exercises to explore several topics. Topics included the built environment, food systems, housing, social connectedness, transportation and a community for all ages.

Participants commented on the value of ‘making connections; understanding that we are more in common than apart’.”

The dynamic day provided many opportunities to learn, connect and innovate. Participants found that it was a “a positive environment that fostered collaboration’ and ‘an excellent place to start the conversation’. Others commented on the value of ‘Making connections; understanding that we are more in common than apart’.

The community and health authority worked together to make the event happen. Both parties contributed in the following ways:

  1. Both partners signed onto the Healthy City Partnership that formed the commitment from both organizations to move forward in a collaborative and innovative way
  2. Several workshop planning sessions with BCHC beginning several months prior to the event,
  3. Providing funds to cover the cost of the venue and food,
  4. Providing content and presentations throughout the workshop; and
  5. Commitment to continued planning and action in collaboration for ‘next steps’. 

The City of Kelowna’s Healthy Community Strategy could be an example for other municipalities of how to include health in policy and foster health equity. The Strategy will promote integrated decision-making and will be a companion document to the Official Community Plan with implementable actions in different priority theme areas.  

Related Resources


Julie Steffler
Interior Health
Community Health Facilitator – Healthy Communities Initiative

Michelle Kam
City of Kelowna
Sustainability Coordinator 
250 469-8982

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