City council has officially endorsed the Trail Age-Friendly Community Action Plan after six months of development and insight from almost 200 seniors.
The document will be used as a decision-making tool for the city’s parks and recreation department as well as other future initiatives in Trail.
So, what is first on the plan’s to-do list?
Because it is an election year, nothing will happen until Trail’s six new councillors sit down and strategize with the city’s new mayor, who won’t be voted in until Oct. 20.
However, Robert Cacchioni, council’s point person for age-friendly planning, explained what its role is meant to be. Notably, he will stay in his councillor seat for another four years by acclamation.
“The plan itself will provide guidance to municipal councils when they are doing their strategic planning,” Cacchioni explained. “The first action of the new council is to determine where this age-friendly plan fits in with the total number of objectives for the 2019 to 2022 strategic plan.”
Just how the plan is used will depend on the new council as endorsement by current politicians does not automatically lock in to the new table.
“There is a great deal to do,” Cacchioni said. “But I am happy that council endorsed the plan and we will see where it goes from there.”
The City of Trail’s age-friendly planning was done in conjunction with parallel processes undertaken by Rossland and the Village of Montrose earlier this year.
Plan development focused on World Health Organization age-friendly themes that are used extensively by other communities and cities within and beyond Canada. Those themes include: respect and social inclusion; community support and health services; housing; transportation; outdoor spaces and buildings; social participation in arts/culture and recreation; communication; and civic participation and employment.
Topping the list as “very important,” was housing. Based on community input, Trail’s age-friendly task identified housing for seniors as a high priority that requires immediate action.
Another issue that took precedence, based on community engagement, was the need for better information and communication. Other matters identified as problematic were social participation, transportation, health services and social inclusion.
“The plan recognizes that a significant portion of our citizens in the area are seniors,” Cacchioni told the Trail Times. “It’s about 30 per cent of our population, and many seniors feel that they have been left out of the decision-making process as far as government goes.”
He says the plan addresses those issues and other major points that stemmed from community engagement, such as barriers to accessing medical care and transportation options.
One significant aspect of the discussions centred around the desire for a seniors advisory council.
“So that their voice can be heard by local government,” Cacchioni said. “I subscribe to this plan much the same as we have advisory councils in many cities on a variety of issues.
“This will allow the municipal government to gain a better understanding of what seniors want and need in our community.”
Community engagement included a survey, a drop-in event, and workshops with the Age-Friendly Task Force.
Notably, there were two versions of the survey – one for people under 60 and one for those older than 60; the number of respondents from these groups was 84 and 89 respectively for a total of 173 responses.
An age-friendly community is one where older adults can “age actively” – that is, to live in security, enjoy good health, and continue to participate fully in society. Becoming age-friendly is said to improve the quality of life for seniors, while it creates a more inclusive, safe and accessible community for everyone.
All three age-friendly planning projects were fully funded by a $25,000 grant through the Union of BC Municipalities’ Age- Friendly Communities program, led by the Whistler Centre for Sustainability.