By 2031, close to 1.5 million British Columbians, or almost a quarter of the province’s population, will be over 65 and Metchosin is getting ready.
The municipality was one of nine regions in B.C. lauded for being age-friendly by the province last week.
The honour comes via the Age-friendly Recognition program, based on the Public Health Agency of Canada’s Pan-Canadian Age-friendly Community Recognition Initiative.
The program, which began in February, is the first step in the creation of an action plan toward recognizing that seniors are an important part of communities, said Ron Cantelon, parliamentary secretary for seniors to the Minister of Health.
“It’s more of a philosophy, really, to consciously make an effort to become age-friendly. We’re consciously going to make a resolution to talk to seniors and ask them ‘what do we need to do to be more age-friendly?’”
Seniors living in rural Metchosin have different needs compared to seniors in other municipalities, according to Colleen Brownlee, co-ordinator of the Metchosin seniors information and resource centre located at the Metchosin Community House.
Brownlee was chosen by council to look into the priorities and needs, such as transportation, of local seniors and find ways to best help them.
“We’re looking at priorities… how do we expand or renew some of the existing services (for seniors),” she said.
While Metchosin has made efforts to be more age-friendly, there’s always room for improvement, Brownlee said.
“There are a lot of areas we need to publicize and (consider) how we can do it better,” she said.
Some ideas Brownlee and her group are looking at include developing a community kitchen, where seniors could take home what they make for weekly meals, a wellness fair to better inform seniors of the services available in their community and programs through the Greater Victoria Public Library.
Brownlee’s efforts come after council passed a motion in late July to make the month of October Active Aging Month in Metchosin.
The $1,000 grant awarded to Metchosin with the recognition will go toward any activities planned for October.
“We’re very encouraged and it gives us the emphasis to go on and make efforts for seniors,” said Coun. Jo Mitchell, who is part of Metchosin’s Healthy Community Advisory Committee and Active Aging Subcommittee.
Esquimalt and Saanich were also named age-friendly.
Video highlighting projects from around the province is available at seniorsbc.ca/agefriendly/afbc_video.
– with files from Natalie North
and Charla Huber