Council okays three-year action plan for age friendliness

December 14, 2016   ·   0 Comments

Orangeville Council has endorsed a three-year community action plan in an attempt to boost the town’s perceived age friendliness for residents aged 65 years and older.

In attendance at Monday night’s Town Council meeting, local members of the Age Friendly Community Action Plan committee, which includes Coun. Scott Wilson as Chair and Stacey Dittman as consultant, provided an in-depth analysis of Orangeville’s age friendliness and highlighted five key priorities and eight areas where the municipality could improve its age friendliness.

Coun. Wilson noted the municipality had been assessed on its ability to provide accurately and properly opportunities relating to communication and information, community support and health, housing, outdoor spaces and buildings, transportation, social participation, respect and inclusion to senior residents.

“It was determined that while Orangeville had many age-friendly strengths, predictably, there is lots of room for improvement,” he said. “What we’re proposing is a three-year plan (that will see Orangeville become) a vibrant and safe community where we can all age with dignity, respect and purpose.”

The three-year “road map,” as it was called by Mrs. Dittman, would fulfill a variety of priorities for the Town. The five priorities it outlines as fundamentals include reducing social isolation of seniors, strengthening accessibility, the development of age friendly awareness initiatives for the private sector, the promotion of integrated cross-department planning at the municipality as well as a concerted effort to address ageism – stereotyping and discriminating against individuals or groups on the basis of their age – everywhere in the community.

Dittman pressed home her belief that aging has quickly become a “global phenomenon”, with the number of people over the age of 60 expected to double by 2050.

“In 2050 more than one in five people will be over the age of 60, at current count that’s over one billion people… We’re going to really have to rethink most things in the coming decades,” Mrs. Dittman said. “As much as aging is a global phenomenon, it’s also a Canadian reality. Last year, Statistics Canada announced that the number of residents over the age of 65 would surpass those under the age of 15. That’s the first time in history that has happened.”

Council voted unanimously to accept the committee’s request to officially adopt the three-year plan as a municipal initiative, with Town CAO Ed Brennan set to take the lead on the project. Additionally, the committee will now be applying to join the World Health Organization’s Global Network of Age Friendly Cities and Communities.

“These are big solutions and require community wide efforts. We’re confident, if we work together, that we can make these priorities a reality within Orangeville,” Mrs. Dittman said. “With approval (we now) have a three-year action plan to move forward with. We’re excited.”

Coun. Sylvia Bradley indicated this was an initiative everybody within the community should be getting behind considering they, eventually, would end up benefitting from it.

“I think this is one of those things that’s tremendously important to a community. It’s going to help all of our current seniors, our upcoming seniors and, frankly, everybody because everyone ages,” she said. “This isn’t just for seniors today, it’s for seniors tomorrow, too.”

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