Photo by Chung Chow
Richmond is full of life.
Every morning, and evening too, young and old blend at various popular exercise spots throughout the city. They engage in a myriad of activities, from soccer to swimming and tai chi to walking.
Being physically active is all in a day’s work. Or at least a big part of it for the majority of the 200,000 people who call this West Coast suburb home.
Richmondites are proud to hold the distinction of living longer—with an average lifespan of 85.7 years—than anywhere else in Canada. And they’re not about to give up the title without a fight.
Why are Richmondites so energetic? It’s a subjective question, but Mayor Malcolm Brodie believes the City of Richmond puts a healthy emphasis on providing recreation opportunities for everyone.
While the Richmond Olympic Oval is an obvious jewel among the community’s impressive array of recreation facilities, Brodie says, “We have a lot of different facilities, and programs that are affordable.”
And despite experiencing fairly rapid growth, he says the city has paid attention to the needs of the people in terms of active living and aging successfully.
“I’m proud and pleased with the progress we’ve made,” Brodie says. “It’s not just a matter of having (facilities and programs) for people in their teens and 20s, who are their prime, but also for tiny tots to seniors so that everyone can get involved. Isolation among seniors is always a big issue and we take active steps to combat that situation.”
A longtime advocate for sport, Coun. Bill McNulty sees Richmond’s affinity for being a healthy community as multi-faceted.
“Physically, all the amenities are there—geography, community facilities and sports groups that promote well-being,” he says. “But to me, healthy also means spiritual, cultural and mental [health]. As a blend of many nations, we welcome and embrace people from around the world and we’re blessed with various opportunities for worship. As a city we have a very positive attitude.”
According to Statistics Canada, by 2021 the number of people across the country, aged 65 years or over, will surpass the number of children 14 and under. This will be a first in the history of the Canadian population.
With a population that reflects the trend, Richmond is positioned well to manage this rapidly-emerging transition.
One of the more obvious physical examples will be the anticipated opening next year of the Minoru Centre for Active Living. Poised to become the hub of Richmond’s recreational, social and cultural life, the 10,219-square-metre complex being built on the site of the former Minoru Pavilion will include facilities for aquatics, fitness and sport as well as 3,065 square metres dedicated to seniors. The space for seniors is double the current Minoru Place Activity Centre.
Heather Muter, co-ordinator of senior services for the City of Richmond, is “incredibly proud” of the investment the city and its partners have made for older adults. She says about 65,000 people visited the Minoru Place Activity Centre last year, or an average of 500 per day. She anticipates the number will grow quickly once the new dedicated seniors space at the Minoru Centre for Active Living opens. It will include expanded food services, featuring nutritious meals, as well as both a billiards room and a woodworking shop.
At the opposite end of the age spectrum, there is a wide selection of programs for youth in Richmond that reflect a community-wide commitment to physical literacy.
Physical literacy is also an important component of the education system. Richmond School District trustee Ken Hamaguchi says Richmond is fortunate to have great facilities which in turn support a host of well-organized, community-based athletic programs.
In addition to the civic facilities and programs, he appreciates that more students ae participating in school-based physical literacy. He says the benefits of adopting a healthy lifestyle are wide-ranging.
“But sport is just one piece of healthy living,” he continues. “And I think kids today are generally more knowledgeable about other areas, like nutrition.”
When it comes to health and fitness, Richmond has a lot to offer: an extensive park (789 hectares) and trail (73 kilometres) system, quality fields (including several artificial turfs), swimming pools and 10 ice rinks--programs and services that promote personal growth and enhance quality of life.