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City of Nanaimo aiming to be an age-friendly community

Councillors endorse plan devoted to improving seniors’ quality of life

The City of Nanaimo wants to make the community a better place for seniors and everyone else.

At a council meeting last month, councillors voted in favour of endorsing the age-friendly city plan that was brought forward by the Nanaimo Seniors Task Force. Staff, following council’s endorsement of the plan, have also submitted an application to the province for official recognition as an Age-Friendly British Columbia community.

The age-friendly city plan aims to enhance the quality of life for seniors living in Nanaimo by removing barriers and improving accessibility, social connection and well-being for everyone in the city. It identifies nine core areas – outdoor spaces and public buildings, transportation, housing, social participation, health and community services, respect and social inclusion, civic participation and volunteerism and employment, communication and food security – that impact seniors’ lives in Nanaimo and provides a list of objectives for each area.

Improving crosswalk visibility, timing and proximity to nearby buildings and advocating high schools to include multigenerational support programs as part of the student volunteer curriculum in an effort to connect young people with seniors and “curtail” ageism are among the objectives listed in the plan.

In an e-mail to the News Bulletin, Dave Stewart, social planner with the city, said the municipality recognizes the importance of “improving accessibility” and “fostering inclusion” for people of all ages.

“Getting recognition through the … program will show residents, visitors and future residents of council’s commitment to achieving their liveability strategic priority: To proactively plan for Nanaimo’s growth and focus on community infrastructure to support an inclusive, healthy and desirable place to live,” he said.

According to the 2016 StatsCan data, approximately 23 per cent of Nanaimo’s population is over the age of 65. The city is expecting that number to increase over the next decade.

An AFBC designation would result in the city’s achievements featured in a section of the B.C. Healthy Communities Society website and newsletter, according to the provincial government. The designation would also give the city automatic eligibility to receive official Pan-Canadian AFC recognition, which is endorsed by the World Health Organization. Since 2012, 45 communities have received the AFBC recognition including the City of Duncan, City of Langford, City of Vancouver, City of White Rock, City of Richmond, City of Kamloops, District of Saanich and Sun Peaks Mountain Resort Municipality.

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nicholas.pescod@nanaimobulletin.com 
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