Ucluelet's Age Friendly Action Plan will not only benefit seniors

Age friendliness includes everyone

A survey is underway to help shape Ucluelet's Age Friendly Action Plan.

An age friendly Ucluelet would be friendly for all ages.

Ucluelet is calling on the public’s participation in a survey that’s currently collecting feedback from locals on how to make the community more age-friendly.

“We want everyone to participate because it’s a part of our community,” the district’s director of parks and recreation Abby Fortune told the Westerly.

“It basically provides a higher quality of life for all ages, so it’s not just a 55-plus survey…A community is not just one age group, it’s a variety of age groups and that’s where the richness comes in within a community.”

Surveys are available online and hard copies can be filled out at the community centre.

Ucluelet hopes to join the roughly 30 communities that have achieved Age-friendly Community Recognition from BC’s Ministry of Health and is putting together an age-friendly action plan to accomplish this goal.

While the age friendly moniker specifically speaks to the 55-plus age group, Fortune noted age friendliness affects all locals and cited pathways and accessibility as examples.

“One of the things that we’ve already been hearing is pathways and sidewalks…There are areas in town that don’t have sidewalks or pathways,” she said.

“If we’ve got age friendly paths, that means someone with a stroller has more accessibility to travel from one end of town to the other, so it all ties in.”

She said Ucluelet has not traditionally focused on seniors but an active and retiring baby boomer population has brought a shift in tradition.

“Traditionally people have left the community once they retire,” she said.

“We’ve got older people coming to this community to retire to this community and we’ve got people that are wanting to stay in this community and not automatically wanting to leave this community.”

She said Ucluelet is now focusing on helping locals stay local.

“We don’t want to lose our community…Just because you hit an age doesn’t mean you should have to move from Ucluelet,” she said.

“So what services can we provide to the community to better support you, whether that be infrastructure or whether that be programming, and what’s the payoff for everyone else?”

Fortune noted seniors have become a fast-growing recreational user group in Ucluelet.

“One of our fastest growing age groups in terms of programming is not just our little baby boom preschoolers, because we do have a baby boom going on there, but also our seniors’ programs,” she said.

She added Ucluelet’s municipal council has been a strong advocate for all age groups.

“Their strategic planning with the Parks and Recreation Department is committed to providing modern, creative and innovative parks and recreation programs and services that provide for the wants and needs of all age groups represented in the community,” she said.

Surveys will be available until the end of August and the feedback will help shape the focus of World Cafe Workshops expected to be launched in October.

“The feedback is going to go towards creating the age friendly plan,” Fortune said.

“It’s a large topic so by getting some feedback from the community it helps us focus on where we need to look for our action plan.”

World Cafes are brainstorming sessions focused on specific topics.

Fortune encourages locals of all ages to participate in both the survey and the workshops.

 

andrew.bailey@westerlynews.ca