Funding to help Tofino’s seniors ‘age in place’

“Seniors are a vibrant and important part of our community.”


Special to the Westerly

Social connectedness is essential for happiness, emphasizes Tofino’s Recreation Programmer Kaela Tompkins, who hopes a new ‘Seniors Lunchbox Program’ kicking off on April 26 will empower local seniors and provide something to look forward to.

Running weekly on Fridays from 10 a.m.-12 p.m. at the Tofino Community Centre, it will offer a wide range of senior-centric programming. A transportation component is being worked on to include Opitsaht and Ty-Histansis.

Tofino Recreation has received a $20,677 grant under the federal New Horizons for Seniors program. It will fund seniors-driven programming and a monthly lunch over the next year, with the possibility of renewal in future.

While a coordinator will be hired to facilitate its launch, seniors will helm a steering committee to determine program needs and deliver programming, where possible.

Tompkins says the idea was sparked by a 2017 Try-It Fair, which invited locals 55 and older to come discover potential activity options, from dance-fit to pickleball, and fill out a survey with their wish list for future programs. Inspired by growing up attending seniors’ functions with her grandparents in the Kootenays, Tompkins is enthusiastic about the friendships she’s already formed with seniors attending existing classes.

“Seniors are a vibrant and important part of our community,” says Tompkins, who added Tofino has over 450 seniors aged 55 to 99, and Sister Margaret Baumann is due to celebrate her 100th birthday this summer.

Tompkins highlights the importance of key partnerships from Pacific Rim Hospice to the District of Tofino, who are donating the community room and gymnasium for the program’s use.

“The number of seniors in our communities is on the rise,” says Mayor Josie Osborne.

“And, it’s important they have access to a diverse range of activities and programs just as residents of other ages do. With both Tofino and Ucluelet now having ‘age friendly’ community plans, we’ve got a far better understanding of what the region’s seniors need and want, and I’m grateful that we’ve got partnerships between local organizations and different levels of government to bring these programs to life.”

While Tofino’s mild climate and oceanfront setting appear ideal for active retirement, it can be challenging to access key services available in larger centres.

There is no local Meals on Wheels program, assisted living facility or transportation assistance for doctor’s appointments or physio. Many health services from specialists to cancer treatment require out-of-town travel bridged, in part, by the volunteer-run Wheels for Wellness program.

To provide volunteer help, from gardening to recycling and dog walking, Tompkins plans to work with Wickaninnish Community School to match students with seniors.

Pacific Rim Hospice Society’s Executive Director Tarni Jacobsen points out that people want to stay in the community they’ve lived in all their lives.

She hopes these programs and others might enable seniors to age in place.

If you would like to receive weekly program information via email, contact Kaela Tompkins: 250-725-3229 ext. 704 or

READ MORE: Seniors boom in Tofino and Ucluelet

READ MORE: Home care declines as B.C. senior population grows, advocate says

READ MORE: Vancouver Island seniors to receive funding for day programs

Just Posted

Tofino Jazz Festival returns this weekend

“The Festival’s main mission is to provide an opportunity to build community through music.”

Tofino Hatchery wraps up successful season

“If you give those things half a chance, they will go to the ‘nth degree’ to get up those rivers.”

Tofino-Ucluelet Westerly News earns four national awards

The Westerly was announced as the recipient of four Canadian Community Newspaper Awards last week.

Culture provides authentic means to education for Ahousaht and Klemtu students

Tying lessons into a real-world scenario creates a more significant and community-based classroom

Tofino police believe alcohol was a factor in Thursday night car crash

The crash knocked out power to the community from 6:44-10:01 p.m

VIDEO: Trans Mountain expansion project gets green light, again

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the decision in Ottawa on Tuesday afternoon

MPs hear retired B.C. nurse’s petition to change compensation for fatal medical errors

Teri McGrath wants provinces to implement no-fault system for medical errors

Horgan says he’ll still defend B.C. coast after second Trans Mountain approval

Meanwhile, one B.C. First Nation has announced plans for a legal challenge

VIDEO: Firefighters stop blaze from spreading after BMW crashes at Saratoga Speedway

Victoria-based businessmen were ‘corner training’ on Father’s Day when incident took place

Demonstrators on either side of Trans Mountain debate clash in Vancouver

Crowd heard from member of Indigenous-led coalition that hopes to buy 51% of expansion project

Grieving B.C. mom hopes Facebook message leads to new investigation into son’s Surrey homicide

Criminal Justice Branch didn’t lay charges, concluding no substantial likelihood of murder or manslaughter conviction

Ginger Goodwin’s Cumberland cemetery grave desecrated

Just days before the Miners Memorial weekend, Ginger Goodwin’s grave has been… Continue reading

B.C.’s measles vaccination program gains traction in May

More than 15,000 doses of the MMR vaccine has been administered across the province

B.C. farmers concerned Agricultural Land Reserve changes choking their livelihood

Dozens voice concerns at special meeting hosted on Vancouver Island

Most Read