Eau Claire Wants You Healthy!

William Kampf, photos by Jesse Johnson

The City of Eau Claire wants you to be healthy (so does your mom, spouse, and kids!). Last year, the City Council adopted a new section into the Comprehensive Plan known as the Health Chapter, the goal being to promote overall public health through the built environment, which includes parks, trails, sidewalks, buildings, etc. In late 2012, an Advisory Committee consisting of key members of the community was convened to examine the key health issues facing the city and how positive health choices can be encouraged through the built environment. The committee, with guidance from the Plan Commission as well as numerous current and former city staff, identified the key issues and created the formal plan that became the Health Chapter. The city can refer to this document when reviewing future projects such as zoning, street reconstruction, and business development. By taking the potential health impacts of new projects into consideration, the city can promote healthy work and living environments.

"Many people struggle with the time demands of life and so staying healthy can be a big challenge," said Eau Claire Associate City Planner Ned Noel. "Remember that we have intentionally designed cities over the last 60 years to make driving the easiest form of travel, but if we reverse engineer, and give people more choice on how they can move through and use the built environment — say pedaling a bicycle on a city trail to get to work — it can be a reason towards adopting a new exercise habit, all the while preventing chronic disease risk."

"Incremental wins when built upon others in a community can have a profound effect," Noel continued. "For example, if a city invests in good parks and trails, transit, compact walkable mixed use developments, fresh and healthy food access, along with protecting natural environment, it can produce, on average, a happier and healthier population."

The Health Chapter was one of the reasons the City of Eau Claire was recently named an “All-America City” by the National Civic League. The entire document can be found on the city’s website.

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