Students outside library

Health and Wellness on Salt Spring Island

By Ivona Bucan

On the October 22, early in the morning, the SLM student group including myself headed to the Southern Gulf Island region with our goal to explore a specific research question. I was particularly interested in health and wellness sector on the Salt Spring Island. One of the first things I have noticed once we have arrived to Ganges was their amazing health and wellness marketing strategy. There are numerous signs all over the place that should help you find the best solution in order to maintain healthy and sustainable lifestyle. Its position, mild climate, local farm products and numerous park trails are another reason why this island has been recognized among many visitors as a perfect summer getaway.

Unfortunately they are experiencing some sustainability issues as well.

Some of the sustainability issues as seen on the Salt Spring Island are increasing senior population and seasonality. Growing senior population is in a bigger demand of the health care and they are also making a huge pressure on the health care infrastructure. On the other hand, young people are leaving the island because of the limited employment opportunities and expensive housing. The question is: Who will provide those services for the senior population if everyone leaves and how to keep young people on the island?

Another sustainability issue is seasonality that is creating an intense pressure on the infrastructure. On the other hand, infrastructure needs to be developed in order to satisfy increased needs of visitors in the summer months and it is underused for the rest of the year. Once when the season is over, numerous people are losing their jobs and they have to find another job or leave the island.

Throughout interesting and inspiring conversations I was able to see some innovative solutions as the answers to those health and wellness sustainability issues. Most of the people that I have talked to are collaborating and trying to help each other in order to reinforce community and make it stronger. Some of them are growing their own organic food while trying to combine different jobs and practices. Another thing that was impressive was the fact that they are trying to sell their products within community in order to lessen the negative impacts of travel on the environment.

In order to help them, I did a small research and tried to find some innovative solutions from outside the region that could help them in order to answer those sustainability challenges. First example is from Croatia, the European country that is also experiencing negative consequences of seasonality. The change of image is seen as something useful in their case, and I believe that is applicable to the Salt Spring Island as well. The Salt Spring Island is seen as the island for the old people and retirees and reshaping of that image could possibly help them to attract more people in the off peak season. Another example that I suggested is from the Czech Republic that also has predominantly senior population. They are developing numerous programs for their seniors in order to change that negative stigma connected with aging and help them to actively engage in the life of community. The Salt Springers are trying to include their seniors in the life of community and I believe this study could help them further expand the knowledge about that subject

I believe that the Salt Spring Island has a lot of potential and that they will find the ways to use them even more in time to come.Ivona Health and Wellness on the Salt Spring Island Presentation

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