Leading Warfield through age-friendly planning was one of the first things on Coun. Cyra Yunkws to-do list.
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After all was said and done over the months-long journey, the first-term councillor has a number of take-aways to share, beginning with a few straightforward age-friendly actions.
“First of all, I want to thank everyone who took part in the process, with a special thanks to the hard working Age-Friendly Task Force,” Yunkws began. “The Village of Warfield has adopted the report and action plan. This sets us up with a series of actions to take, and we will start with some of the low-hanging fruit, like improving our communication processes, keeping in mind that not every form of communication works for everyone,” she explained.
“We will also be publishing the hours and locations of our public washrooms, and these are great examples of how being an age-friendly community benefits everyone.”
The task force acted as the sounding board for a series of organized workshops, whereby the panel reviewed and considered all the feedback gathered from a community survey and drop-in event held in the spring.
“We learned a lot from the process, particularly (from) the community-wide survey,” said Yunkws said. “Over 80 per cent of our citizens, aged 60 and over, feel that Warfield is age-friendly, and most feel that it is a very safe community.”
Their top four reasons for staying in Warfield into their retirements years included housing, social connections, feeling safe and health care. Those who responded ‘other’ to the question provided a range of answers, most focusing on their love of the community, its affordability and their home as the main reasons.
As well, respondents under the age of 60 shared the same top three reasons, or housing, social connections and feeling safe.
“We learned that people love to live in Warfield, but that was no surprise,” Yunkws said. “We also learned that we can do better. We can host more activities, and better support our aging neighbours in a variety of ways.”
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 not only improves quality of life for seniors, it also creates a more inclusive, safe and accessible community for everyone.
Given Warfield’s latest demographics – 19 per cent of the population is 65 years and older – age-friendly planning was deemed a council priority.
The village’s initiative was fully funded by $25,000 from the Union of BC Municipalities’ Age-Friendly Communities grant program. The process was led by the Whistler Centre for Sustainability, and 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, social participation, communication and information, civic participation, and employment.