The provincial government will give $650,000 towards a new program that will help local governments create environments in which seniors will be able to enjoy good health and active participation in their communities.
Age-friendly B.C., a program in partnership with the Union of British Columbia Municipalities, is designed to help seniors with recognition, support and information. Communities that are age-friendly provide welcoming public spaces, accessible transportation, affordable housing options and employment and volunteer opportunities. They also provide information and services which fit the needs of seniors. In a nutshell, it’s a place where older people are respected participants in the community.
In order to qualify for the program’s services, local governments must apply to show they have met criteria which focuses on seniors’ engagement, commitment, assessment and action.
The program’s website contains a new guide and other information on how communities can achieve each step to becoming more age-friendly, but the government will also print out and package together booklets for local governments.
“An age-friendly community is where older British Columbians are supported to live active, socially-engaged and independent lives,” Premier Christy Clark said.
“We are working with local governments and the UBCM to provide $650,000 in grants and award local efforts to create communities where people of all ages and abilities feel valued and included throughout their life.”
The age-friendly concept stems from several studies conducted by the World Health Organization, as well as several Canadian studies that reveal the majority of seniors aren’t active members of their communities. The B.C. government’s aim is to achieve an age-friendly status in every community throughout the province.
“Local governments are adjusting their approach to community design and program delivery to keep pace with aging populations,” said Barbara Steele, UBCM President. “The additional funding provided by the government of B.C. will support local government efforts to create age friendly communities.”
This is one of many efforts by the provincial government to tackle problems created by B.C.’s aging population. Almost one-sixth of B.C.’s population is 65 or older. Within the next 20 years, the number of seniors will double from 676,000 to an estimated 1,324,000.