Walking trails part of strategy to make Mission healthier

The District of Mission is aiming to earn the title of walking capital of the Fraser Valley

Mission Mayor Ted Adlem spoke in a recently released YouTube video about Mission's walking trails.

Mission wants to become the Fraser Valley’s walking capital.

Mayor Ted Adlem appears in a YouTube video to talk about Mission’s 16 major trails totalling 150 kilometres of walking space, some of which are jointly maintained with BC Hydro around Hayward and Stave Lakes.

That’s just what exists at present, said Adlem, as the district is hoping to expand trails to the interpretive forest west of Stave Lake. At 10,500 hectares, Mission’s municipal forest is 20 times larger than Stanley Park.

The video was featured during a visit from nearly two dozen Mission delegates to the first Healthy Living Trade Show in Burnaby April 20. Many of the actions other communities were highlighted in short videos about promoting healthy living.

Mission has become an eco-tourism destination in recent years, and the municipality has worked with recreational organizations like the Fraser Valley Mountain Bike Association to create more trail opportunities.

The Mission Regional Chamber of Commerce, a supporter of the Mission Healthy Community Council (MHCC), sent chamber manager Michelle Favero to the trade show.

“The difference that Mission offers, its competitive advantage, is that our trails go from easy, like Heritage Park, to extremely difficult. And you don’t have to go very far to meet those needs,” she said.

The other attraction is the rugged wilderness here, not simply urban parks, she added.

Mission received poor marks in a March issue of the national magazine Money Sense, ranking the census metropolitan area of Abbotsford-Mission 172nd out of 190 municipalities for the ability to walk or bike to work.

But Adlem said the reality is that until Mission gets more jobs, it will remain a largely car-commuting municipality.

“That doesn’t mean when you drive home you can’t go over to Fraser River Heritage Park and walk for 45 minutes,” he added.

Favero agreed that the vast distances between different areas of Mission makes ditching the car impractical, but said it doesn’t detract from what the district has to offer for personal health.

“I live in a rural area but I walk five minutes and I’m on 17 kilometres of trail around a lake. Anywhere else I have get in a bus to do that.”

Fraser Health has committed to Healthier Community Partnerships, which was initiated in January. Community commitments range from cities building walking trails to creating school vegetable gardens for lunch programs.

The MHCC, co-chaired by Fraser Health and the District of Mission, is comprised of representatives from council, health-related organizations, Mission Public Schools, and a number of non-profit and community organizations.

Mission’s own “What is Your Commitment?” video can be seen online at www.youtu.be/bAwfUr-V7Cc.

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