What would Trail seniors – and those approaching retirement age – like to see in the Silver City?
What’s lacking for pensioners? And how can senior-centric services become seamless to access?
Those questions and more are the impetus behind age-friendly planning Trail council recently launched after receiving a $25,000 grant to begin the process.
“We are looking at a population base in the City of Trail, now, that 30 per cent are 65 and over,” Coun. Robert Cacchioni says. “So that’s a major issue. And, secondly, there is this concept of isolation.”
He pointed to a number of studies that show people are growing more reliant on electronic connectedness, rather than social, or face-to-face engagement.
“We also know and appreciate that when people aren’t connected, it actually has a dramatic effect on their life,” Cacchioni said. “I always try, and most councillor members do as well, to look out and to take care of individuals that are older and have difficulties with mobility or whatever it happens to be.”
An age-friendly community is an inclusive community. Meaning, older adults can “age actively” or live in security and good health while they continue to participate fully in society.
“Age-friendly is just another way of recognizing this particular group and significant group in our community,” Cacchioni added.
“But first we need to listen to what they want before we make any proposals.”
Coun. Cacchioni and Coun. Eleanor Gattafoni Robinson were appointed as municipal leads for a task force that will delve into an age-friendly assessment and action plan for Trail, based on community insight, and guided by professionals from the Whistler Centre for Sustainability.
Montrose is another community that received a $25,000 grant to develop age-friendly planning this year.
Mayor Joe Danchuk and Coun. Cindy Cook will work alongside community organizations, staff, and a consultant to develop an action plan specific to Montrose. (The village is already part of Beaver Valley Age Friendly, which includes Fruitvale and Area A of the regional district.)
“We already have things going on out there for seniors, such as socializing and education,” said Danchuk, referring to Beavery Valley’s highly-regarded program which began in 2012.
“So now we want to see what we can do for them right here in Montrose.”
The village is asking interested residents to join its age-friendly task force, which calls for a time commitment of approximately 20 hours between April and September.
Danchuk says the focus is on seniors. But he clarified that age-friendly also includes the younger sector who is looking to stay in Montrose post-retirement.
“What do they want?” Danchuk queried.
“That’s part of it as well, and an important aspect,” he said. “So the committee might not necessarily just be made up of seniors, there might be some representation from people who are aging into it.”
Last summer, for example, a mostly senior group wanted to spruce up Montrose by planting flowers. They completed their planting with council’s backing, Danchuk explained. Another theme he’s heard from retirees is their desire for enhanced and age-friendly walking trails and parks.
“These are just some of the ideas,” he said. “We want to keep seniors in their homes in Montrose for as long as possible, so that’s part of council’s plan. To get age-friendly services in place and make the community very conducive for those citizens,” he added.
“What we need to ask, is what kinds of things would make their life better in the village.”
Last fall, Rossland announced it would embark on the age-friendly process. Trail, Montrose, and the Alpine city will be working with the same consultant from the Whistler Centre for Sustainability to share learning, and at the end of the project, the three task forces will come together in one workshop to identify synergies and resolve any overlap.