From Fort St. John to Wells, eight communities in northern British Columbia are receiving age-friendly grants to support seniors, so they can live active, safe, socially engaged and independent lives.
“Seniors spent their lives building our communities — it’s important that they are included in them as they age,” said Health Minister Adrian Dix. “When we make communities age friendly, we make them more accessible for everyone.”
Approximately $587,000 in age-friendly grants are being provided to B.C. communities in 2018.
“We know that seniors who stay socially connected and active in the community live longer, healthier lives,” said Parliamentary Secretary for Seniors Anne Kang. “I encourage our communities to keep up the great work they’re doing to develop sustainable projects that support seniors in being connected to the people and activities they love.”
Grants will be distributed to Fort St. John, Fraser Lake, Kitimat, Prince George, Quesnel, Smithers, Stewart and Wells. The communities’ projects and plans include:
- an assessment on how to make Fort St. John more age-friendly;
- increased use of Fraser Lake’s community vehicle to help support seniors to socialize and be physically active;
- the creation of an action plan to enhance seniors’ services in Kitimat;
- the development of age-friendly recreation programs in Prince George;
- a plan to help Quesnel seniors age in place;
- a partnership with the Smithers public library to offer more large print and audio books;
- a renovation to the Stewart seniors centre; and
- the implementation of a project to increase the walkability of Wells.
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.
Communities that have completed steps towards becoming age-friendly can be officially recognized by the Province as an age-friendly British Columbia community. In 2017, Abbotsford, Keremeos, Salmo, Sicamous, Smithers and Tofino were officially recognized as age-friendly for their work in making their communities more accessible and inclusive for older adults.
The age-friendly communities grant program is a partnership between the Province and the Union of British Columbia Municipalities. In September 2017, local governments were invited to apply for grants and encouraged to consider projects that focused on accessibility, aging well, physical activity and non-medical home supports. Successful applicants are eligible to apply for a range of services from BC Healthy Communities Society to support their project.
More information about age-friendly B.C. can be found by visiting: http://www.gov.bc.ca/agefriendly
A backgrounder follows.
Ministry of Health Communications250 952-1887 (media line)
Fort St. John
Project: Age-friendly assessment and action plan
Details: A multi-phase approach will move Fort St. John forward as an age-friendly community, with city staff working with stakeholders, organizations and individuals in the community. The assessment will focus on the inventory of age-friendly assets, identify barriers and needs, and determine priorities for Fort St. John’s older adult population.
Project: Fraser Lake Walk and Roll project
Details: The Walk and Roll project will provide opportunities for social interaction, learning and physical activities for seniors living in this rural community by increasing the use of the community vehicle. Monthly excursions will be arranged for seniors and their caregivers to access recreation facilities for activities, such as aquafit, or to attend a cultural event, such as live theatre, or a speakers’ series in neighbouring communities.
Project: Age-friendly action plan
Details: Kitimat is responding to a recent housing study that identifies the district as a community that has a large proportion of 65 and older residents that is expected to increase rapidly in the coming years. The action plan will assist the district in updating the official community plan, a crucial step in identifying the needs of seniors and providing for future updates to improve and enhance seniors’ services. The plan builds on Kitimat’s 2014 recognition as an age-friendly community.
Project: Active Seniors! Active Communities!
Details: City staff will work with the seven community associations in Prince George to develop age-friendly recreational programs, activities and events, including intergenerational programs that will foster respect and learning between seniors and youth. The Prince George Council of Seniors will play a key role in the development phase, program promotion and recruitment for seniors’ participation.
Project: Age-friendly assessment and strategic plan
Details: Quesnel recognizes that resident retention, including seniors, is important to the long-term vibrancy of its community. This assessment of the city’s age-friendly capacity will set the foundation for the development of a plan, priorities and activities to enable more seniors to age in place. The assessment will include consultation in a world café setting, meetings with relevant groups and organizations, and outreach to isolated seniors.
Project: Accessible books for seniors with vision disabilities
Details: The town of Smithers is working with its public library to create an inclusive atmosphere by offering larger-print and audio books for older adults and visually impaired members of the community. By encouraging reading, library use and community participation, the project co-ordinators hope to help combat isolation of its seniors. The project builds on Smithers’ 2017 recognition as an age-friendly community.
Project: Stewart seniors centre
Details: The District of Stewart will renovate an existing facility for a seniors centre. This was identified as a need in the community to better the lives of residents, many of whom no longer have family near and rely on the community for support. It will serve as a gathering place to hold meetings of the seniors’ steering committee, social and recreational activities, information and communications, and health care and other services.
Project: Increasing walking accessibility in wells
Details: The District of Wells will work to increase community accessibility through two pilot programs to improve residential snow removal for seniors and those with disabilities, and to increase outdoor seating to provide rest areas, with bench installations on routes designated by seniors and community members. Both these programs will reduce isolation and improve overall accessibility for older adults.