The Village of Cache Creek has received a $20,000 Age Friendly Community grant from the Union of BC Municipalities; and Cache Creek chief administrative officer Keir Gervais is excited about the opportunity the grant provides.
“Council identified this as one of their priorities during a strategic planning session last year,” explains Gervais. “The grant allows us to create an assessment process, and a tool that we can use.”
Maren Luciani—principal of Luciani Urban Planning and Design—and Pam Moore of Pam Moore Consulting have been brought on board to assist with the assessment. “We secured a contract with the Village to facilitate the planning process and do an age friendly assessment of the community,” says Luciani. “We’ll be looking at ways to better support the seniors living here.
“Our work plan is to talk to seniors and to service providers working with seniors to see what the needs are. That will allow us to develop actions and policies for the future, to enhance the community from an age friendly perspective.”
She says they will be taking an inventory of existing supports and services, infrastructure, and programs for seniors in the community. “It’s an exercise for seniors. The most important piece to get across is that most of the information we’ll be using will come from community members, especially seniors. We’ll be identifying gaps such as housing, transportation, programs, and health services.”
Gervais says that a key point of Luciani’s proposal was the public engagement aspect. “It’s a ‘by seniors, for seniors’ model. The loudest voice will be seniors.”
A steering committee made up of seniors living in the community, service providers for seniors, Interior Health, Village staff, and councillor Lisa Dafoe will help guide the process. There will be three phases of community engagement, with the first phase being separate surveys for seniors and for those providing care to seniors.
“They’ll help us gather information about the existing challenges and issues experienced by seniors living here, and identify potential solutions, as well as the needs and wants of the community,” says Gervais. The surveys will be available from October 30 to November 10, and will be online at the Village’s website (http://www.village.cachecreek.bc.ca/). Paper copies will also be available at the Village Office, the Cache Creek Library, and other locations, as well as at Better at Home and at the south Cariboo Elizabeth Fry Society office in Ashcroft.
The surveys will also be available at the flu clinic at the Cache Creek Community Hall on November 8. “People can engage with us directly, and complete the surveys on the spot.”
The second and third phases will be defined and planned after the survey results come back, but there will definitely be social gatherings for seniors so they can share their ideas.
Moore is newly-retired from Interior Health, and spent many years in public health. “I’ll be coming at it from a health perspective,” she says. “There are a significant number of people in Cache Creek over the age of 50, and there are also a number of 80-year-olds. Their needs are very different.”
Luciani is pleased to have the health component as part of the process. “What I’ve found with a lot of age friendly projects is that there was either a health or a planning perspective. We’re combining those skill sets.”
“We already know some gaps, but have been proactive in what we offer,” says Gervais. “We have the exercise equipment in the park, free swimming, free badminton, free use of the community hall for some events.
“But we’ve also had complaints from seniors about the need for certain services, like transportation and affordable housing. We’ll conduct a thorough and comprehensive process to develop an action plan for moving forward.”
Luciani says they hope to have a finalized report by the end of February 2018, but adds that there will be an opportunity for the community to look at the proposed plan first. “We want them to weigh in on did we get it right, did we listen to what they said. It will be a plan and an implementation program; but we do have to keep in mind that there are financial constraints in small towns.”
“I’m genuinely excited about the process we’ve been able to attract to our community,” says Gervais. “I hope the community comes out and participates. Look out for posters, and the age friendly page on our website. Come out and participate. My roots are in community service, and it’s a topic I’m passionate about.”