FILE — Swimmers competed the BC Senior Games in the summer. (Submitted)

City council working to make Rossland more age friendly

Council heard a presentation from two representatives of the Rossland Seniors’ Association

Rossland City Council is working to make the community more age-friendly.

Council heard a presentation from two representatives of the Rossland Seniors’ Association last month, asking that council find a way to address the higher costs paid by Rosslanders when using the Trail Aquatic Centre

“We’re here tonight to tell council that it’s still a major concern for many Rosslanders of all ages that we pay double what others in the area do to access the Trail Aquatic Centre,” said Carol Albo, one of the presenters.

It costs $10.60 per visit for seniors 60 and over to use the Trail Aquatic Centre — double what Trail residents or residents from towns with a TRP agreement pay. Alternatively, seniors can pay $110.60 for a monthly pass, again double what others pay.

“We’ve heard some Rosslanders say that they take a carload of grandkids all the way to Castlegar to swim. Sure they pay more gas, but they also shop, dine out and enjoy other Castlegar facilities while there,” said Albo. “Those over 80 years old actually swim free at Castlegar; however, most seniors would rather only drive to Trail.”

Albo and her co-presenter Barb Roberts asked that council restore the rebate program that was previously in place for the Trail facilities.

Rebates are now only available for teams for children up to 18 years old and there is only $10,000 available, split between a spring and fall intake.

RELATED: Rossland council sets conditions for 2017 Trail Recreation Program fee assistance

But Mayor Kathy Moore said it was unlikely that the Trail Recreation Program fee issue was unlikely to be resolved anytime soon — due to the cost.

“For us to do what Trail wanted we would have to have a two per cent increase just to cover the cost of recreation that Trail demands. That’s a two per cent increase on the entire town. We get about $50,000 on a one per cent increase. They wanted us to pay close to $100,000 so we could have the same access to recreation that, say, Beaver Valley does or Warfield,” said Moore.

David Perehudoff, CAO for the City of Trail, was contacted for more information on Trail’s recreation fees but had not responded by press time.

Albo and Roberts also requested that council consult “with a cross-section of seniors when the city undertakes its recreation facilities and programs’ review. The city should really consider the spectrum of seniors’ needs increasingly required by aging seniors and new seniors, which form a growing segment of our population.”

On that front, Moore had more positive news.

The City of Rossland is waiting to hear back regarding its application for an Age-friendly Communities Grant, administered by the Union of BC Municipalities and funded by the province.

They have applied under the first funding stream, which provides funding for age-friendly, action plans and planning, and once the city has a completed age-friendly assessment or action plan, they will be eligible for funding under stream two, which provides project funding.

If the grant application is successful, the city can build on the work it began with Sandi McCreight, a seniors’ advocate from Castlegar, over the summer.

“That [the Age-friendly Communities Grant project] would take a lot of the material that we gathered with Sandi and put that into a more formal proposal that would get some funding hopefully from the province,” said Moore.

For Moore, the ultimate goal is to have a seniors’ coordinator who works for Rossland, Trail and Warfield “creating events and activities and social interactions for seniors in our area, much the way they have in Beaver Valley.”

Beaver Valley hired its seniors’ coordinator six years ago.

The coordinator oversees an age-friendly program, providing socialization and dealing with isolation and transportation issues, among other things, according to Fruitvale Mayor Patricia Cecchini.

“They have monthly coffee meetings to discuss issues that they have and they bring in guest speakers on health and wellness for the seniors,” says Cecchini.

The program started with a grant to produce a study on seniors’ needs in the community and is funded through Beaver Valley Recreation, with Fruitvale, Montrose and Area A contributing to the service.

“We had a core group of seniors that were involved in that original group and it just kind of evolved from there,” says Cecchini.

The Village of Fruitvale also has a gym for community members who are 50 years old or better that it built over two years ago as a result of consultation with its senior population.

“There was a lot of activities like senior’s Zumba and dance and yoga, but the men wanted something, and they wanted a gym,” says Cecchini.

The village successfully applied for a grant and then built the gym in the Fruitvale Memorial Centre.

“It’s been highly successful. The seniors were intimidated to go to the gym. A lot of them that use it have never been to a gym before, but because it’s for seniors only they feel comfortable in there and there’s a steady stream of them,” says Cecchini.

The gym includes treadmills, ellipticals, bikes, rowing machines and weights.

Asked for any advice she’d offer to other communities wanting to improve things for their seniors, Cecchini said, “listen to the seniors. You shouldn’t be telling them what [they] need, they will tell you what they need.”

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