What’s it going to take to make Rossland a better place for seniors to live? A group met this week to discuss just that.
The Age Friendly Initiative began the second phase of its work with a meeting in the City on Monday.
“It’s about looking at our communities and seeing what we can do to make them more comfortable for seniors,” says Mayor Kathy Moore. “To allow our seniors to be able to age in-place, in their community.”
The AFI held several meetings earlier year to identify what seniors want and need to live in a city like Rossland.
“Right now seniors, as they get older, often have to move out of Rossland because it isn’t entirely age-friendly… not only is it hilly here, but there’s not enough activities for seniors, not enough appropriate housing… there are a lot of things to look at.”
The meetings on Monday reviewed the work that had been done before, participants checked for any gaps in service, and started prioritizing areas of concern. In June work will begin to design action plans to make projects for seniors happen in each community.
There’s not much the city can do about the topography, admits Moore, but there are plenty of local examples of making communities better for older citizens.
“Beaver Valley is way ahead on age-friendly planning,” says Moore, “They put in place a whole Age-Friendly program. There’s a high component to having more social interaction- so monthly luncheons for seniors, gym time, coffee time where people can meet and talk. They go on trips- they come to Rossland for the Gold Fever Folly shows. They’ve hired a co-ordinator to help develop programs.”
Trail, Warfield and Rossland began a joint Age-Friendly Initiative about two years ago, but the process didn’t work out. With new funding from a provincial initiative, Moore says the three communities are going to try again.
“We have a great deal of base material from the first project that we have an idea what is wanted, and that we will need a co-ordinator that works for all three communities,” she said. Moore says it makes sense for the three communities to work together.
“There is a lot of overlap between them because we all share concern with health issues, transportation challenges and housing,” she says. “The other areas, such as information and communication, social inclusion, civic participation, outdoor spaces, recreation and leisure are all more community-specific.”
“Rossland is too small to have its own coordinator, but if we combine with Trail and Warfield, we can put together a nice job for somebody to be the senior coordinator and work for all these communities.”
The AFI brings in a lot of different seniors organizations, municipal and provincial government departments, and special interests- 35 people were at an initial meeting earlier this year. The Whistler Centre for Sustainability has been hired to co-ordinate the job of lining up the various interests. The ultimate goal is each community will have an Initiative tailored to its needs, with the co-ordinator managing the programs.
Moore says the project is entering into a busy phase. Developing the action plan next month, the Initiative will then communicate it with the public over the summer, with the goal of implementing projects in the fall.
“Right now we’re so focused on all the wonderful things that happen outdoors, and as long as people are active and healthy Rossland’s a great place to live,” she says.”But when you get to the point where you’d maybe rather do things that are more indoor activities or maybe just socialize, we’re a little weaker in that area.
“That’s my impression but we’re going to be doing work now on what the community actually wants and needs.”
The 2018 age-friendly grants will be distributed to 34 communities throughout B.C., almost double the number that received grants in 2017. This includes 12 communities that will receive grants of up to $25,000 for age-friendly assessments and action plans, and up to $15,000 awarded to 22 communities in support of age-friendly projects.