By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express
Approximately 50,000 of Oshawa’s residents are over the age of 55, a number that is slated to grow in the future.
With this in mind, the city and Oshawa Senior Citizens Centre (OSCC) are partnering together to develop an age-friendly community strategy.
This concept gained prominence in 2006 when the World Health Organization developed the Global Age-Friendly Cities Project.
The project aims to make cities more age-friendly by engaging local older adults and organizations that serve them.
Similar strategies have been recently completed in Whitby, Clarington and Durham Region.
“Oshawa is now on that journey,” says Colleen Zavrel, programs and services director for the OSCC. “Because of our work with seniors, [the city] asked us to lead the process.”
The age-friendly strategy is part of the city’s larger focus on improving diversity and inclusion, Zavrel says.
The strategy will address eight specific areas including outdoor spaces/buildings, transportation, housing, social participation, respect and social inclusion, civic participation and employment, communication and information, and community support and health services.
“To be designated as an age-friendly community, you need to address, examine and research these issues, and show how you intend to meet the requirements under these dimensions,” Zavrel explains.
Feedback on the strategy will come from a wide cross-section of sources including city staff, the OSCC and its membership, community organizations and of course, the city’s older adult population.
“It’s a priority that older adults are engaged to help inform the strategy,” Zavrel says.
To garner this feedback, a number of events are planned throughout this month.
Two open forums will be held on Tuesday, Nov. 27. The first is scheduled for 10 a.m. to noon at the Oshawa Public Library, Northview Branch at 250 Beatrice Street, and second from 7 to 9 p.m. at the OSCC’s John Street Location, 43 John Street West.
There will also be focus groups and pop-up events at numerous locations during the month. Details can be found at connectoshawa.ca/agefriendly
A survey can also be found online, at any OSCC or Oshawa Public Library branch or at Service Oshawa located at City Hall, 50 Centre Street South.
Feedback for the strategy must be received by Thursday, Nov. 29.
The strategy requires approval from the OSCC board and city council, Zavrel explains. Her hope is to have it completed by June 2019.
Zavrel says “there is lots going on in the City of Oshawa for older adults,” but they are hoping to see how they can improve.
“I think that is our current state – we are asking that question.”
So far, there has been considerable interest in the strategy.
“If you can say one thing about older adults because it is going to potentially impact them, and make their life better, they are certainly willing to give feedback,” Zavrel says.