Nelson: an age-friendly community?

Nelson plans to build accessibility for seniors into all planning documents

Nelson City Council plans to make the city more friendly to seniors.

At Monday’s meeting, council agreed to endorse and help implement the Age Friendly Community Assessment Action Plan, completed earlier this year by a multi-faceted group led by Nelson CARES.

Council agreed to implement a number of recommendations in the report including applying an age-friendly lens to all future planning and development, and working with an ongoing age-friendly advisory committee.

The plan includes the survey of Nelson seniors conducted by Selkirk College. In the survey, the areas with the highest percentage of a combined “strongly agree” or “somewhat agree” responses from seniors include:

• Older adults are generally treated respectfully (55 per cent agreed)

• Speed limits are appropriate in populated areas (52 per cent)

• Community activities bring together different generations (51 per cent)

• Physicians are available to the community (50 per cent)

• Medical equipment, rental or loans are available (50 per cent)

• Volunteer opportunities give inter-generational involvement (49 per cent)

• Activities include physical, recreational, indoor, outdoor, educational and cultural events (48 per cent)

• Businesses clear snow and ice in front of their buildings (48 per cent)

• Older adults are asked to participate in meetings and their contributions are recognized (46 per cent)

• There is a range of social events for older adults of all ages (46 per cent)

• Older adults are encouraged to volunteer and remain engaged in the community (46 per cent)

• Programs such as mental health services, mammograms, diabetes clinics, and cancer support

groups are available (44 per cent)

• Parking lots are well maintained and cleared of snow and ice (40 per cent)

Project co-ordinator Corrine Younie says she was not surprised by the low scores.

“The challenge we have is that we are a city built on the side of a mountain, so accessibility is the challenge right from the get-go. But there are some things we can address. We can work on transportation, we can work on sidewalks and snow removal, all with the city support and the community’s support.”

In the survey, the statements that received the highest percentage of “disagree” or “somewhat disagree” include:

• There are clear signs that direct pedestrians to washrooms (70 per cent disagreed)

• Public washrooms are available (69 per cent)

• Specialist services are readily available (57 per cent)

• Snowbanks along sidewalks are removed so passengers can get in and out of vehicles (57 per cent)

• Different types of appropriate and affordable housing are available (55 per cent)

• Snow removal considers those who use scooters or wheelchairs (51 per cent)

• Affordable supports are available to help older adults to stay in their homes (46 per cent)

• Housing is located close to services (45 per cent)

• Lines on pavement are clear and visible (44 per cent)

• Affordable long-term care options are available (44 per cent)

Younie says the results show that the problems are systemic.

“We need to build it into our planning department, into our regulations, so that things don’t get built unless they are accessible. It needs to have that age-friendly lens at a city development level, and we are fortunate to have the city to agree to this.”

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