The Sunshine Coast has close to double the number of seniors as the provincial average, and it is projected that by 2027 the population of seniors 75+ on the Sunshine Coast will double.
The 2017 Age-Friendly Community Plan was commissioned by the District of Sechelt to the Resource Centre’s Seniors Planning Table (SPT). It was constructed to inform community members and agencies about issues and create a foundation for future work.
The recommendations that were prioritized from this study include:
- Outdoor spaces and buildings
The District of Sechelt needs more and flatter sidewalks, and signed beach trails with more benches and washrooms. Places for people to gather and socialize are important.
- Transportation and traffic safety
Improve safe and accessible transportation for pedestrians, bicycles, motorized mobility devices, and users of public transit and ferries.
- Housing and independent living
Seniors were concerned about ageing in place in a safe, and affordable home. An affordable housing strategy is required, as is the continuation of the Homelessness Advisory Committee.
- Respect and inclusion
The SPT should work with community groups to foster intergenerational connections.
- Social participation
We recommend that the SCRD Recreation department and the SPT increase opportunities for building social connections by holding community events at neighborhood halls, parks and schools.
- Civic participation and employment
Many older adults must work, so we recommend that the Open Door Group, SCREDO, and the Resource Centre consider the employment and financial needs of older adults. Older adults also are some of the busiest volunteers in our community. There is a need for a more robust Volunteer Centre.
- Communication and information
We heard repeatedly that community members are unaware of services offered on the Coast, and don’t know where to go to find information. We need to continue to promote resources like BC-211, the Resource Centre and the Coast Reporter, among other options.
- Community support and health services
Seniors’ health care needs are urgent, and communication about services is lacking. The report provides recommendations to health care authorities and local organizations to address wellness, dementia and other health needs.
District of Sechelt Age-Friendly Planning
The Age-Friendly Community Plan followed a handful of previous successful age-friendly initiatives led by the District of Sechelt. These included:
- The 2010 District of Sechelt Accessible and Adaptable Housing Design Guidelines
- The 2010 Sechelt Residents 50+ Survey
- The 2012 District of Sechelt Seniors Resource Directory
UBCM Age-Friendly Program
These projects are funded by the UBCM Age-friendly Communities program which supports BC communities to develop and implement policies and plans, and undertake projects that enable seniors to age in place and facilitate age-friendly communities. UBCM has published their own guides, such as:
- The Age-Friendly Rural and Remote Communities: A Guide
- Becoming an Age-friendly Community: Local Government Guide
- The program is partially inspired by the World Health Organization’s global age-friendly cities project
This particular 2017 study used the community development model of focus groups and consulted with 208 seniors in eight focus groups to gain insight to local issues and collect recommendations. The project was funded by the Union of BC Municipalities through the District of Sechelt, organized by the Resource Centre’s Sunshine Coast Seniors Planning Table and produced by Alison Leaney, mSW, RSW.