By Kalinowski, Tim on February 26, 2020.
Lethbridge city council has unanimously passed a motion to support Lethbridge’s bid to become an “Age-Friendly” designated community.
The designation drive, adopted during Monday’s public meeting, would be both a provincial one, and one which would be recognized by the World Health Organization when accomplished. To achieve the designation Lethbridge must create a plan and do ongoing work to address eight key areas to make seniors’ lives in the community better. Those areas are: greater accessibility for outdoor spaces and buildings; transportation accessibility; enhancing opportunities for seniors’ social participation; affordable and appropriate housing; respect and social inclusion; civic participation and employment; communication and information; and community support and health services.
“What it does, really, is show the world that Lethbridge is a community that is looking to make things better for everybody in a real and tangible way,” explained Age-Friendly Lethbridge committee chair Rob Miyashiro. “As I said (in council), when you make a community friendly for older people you actually make it friendly for everybody. You make adjustments to the way your environment is, and to the way your support services are laid out, and to what your transportation is. If it’s good for seniors, and is something that can help them to get along better, it’s going to help everybody. It’s going to help kids. It’s going to help people with disabilities. That’s the whole point of Lethbridge becoming an Age-Friendly community.”
Within the eight designated areas, Age-Friendly Lethbridge also presented 19 action points, derived from a community survey administered in 2018 and focus groups put together to brainstorm the topic in 2019, to achieve the overall goal of creating a community which is better for seniors.
One which came high on the list for all seniors surveyed, confirmed Miyashiro, and which drew a lot of public attention, was the potential creation of a volunteer snow-removal program in Lethbridge.
“When the survey was done, seniors said one of the worst times for them is after a big snowfall,” said Miyashiro. “They can’t get out, and they are not strong enough to shovel themselves. They may not be able to afford a snow-removal company. And they might now have neighbours who can do the shovelling.”
“So what we are looking at with this is: can we work with, let’s say, Volunteer Lethbridge? Or the City’s communications and social media? Can we work with the mainstream media to figure out a way to get people to help seniors get their sidewalks cleaned? We’re not talking about necessarily cleaning a whole driveway. We want them to be able to walk in front of their own house and maybe get to the postal box. Maybe even clean the front step.”
The other 18 action points can be found on the city council agenda for Monday’s meeting, but they all share the common ideal of taking measurable steps to ensure Lethbridge seniors can enjoy the highest quality of life in the city they can, said Miyashiro.
“We felt this is the best way for Lethbridge to get recognized as an ‘Age-Friendly Community’, to do the work to get the designation, and it has paid off,” he stated. “Council approved the plan, there was no voicing of any opposition, and I think we are well on our way.”
Follow @TimKalHerald on Twitter