By Doug Hallett
City hall plans to spend the next six months looking at ways to adapt its services to the needs of an aging population.
“I think we just want to be charting a path, to be more proactive than reactive, which is why we are doing this work,” says Wendy Kornelsen, who is project manager for the Older Adult Strategy that the city is preparing.
The aim is to find ways to better serve seniors over the next 10 years, said Kornelsen, who works out of the Evergreen Seniors Centre as the city’s manager of senior services.
Several other Ontario cities, including Mississauga and London, have done or are doing similar exercises, she said in an interview.
The city has budgeted $40,000 for the project, which involves hiring a consultant to help city staff in “developing this complex and comprehensive strategy,” says a new report written by Kornelsen.
The project’s first phase will involve documenting current city hall policies, services and functions that support older adults, researching alternative service delivery models and options, “profiling the older adult community” and consulting with stakeholders such as the Guelph Wellington Seniors Association, the report says. The second part of the project will involve an action plan.
The proportion of Guelph residents who are 55 and older is expected to be the fastest growing segment of the city’s population in coming years, says the report, which looks ahead as far as 2031.
“The impact of this demographic shift on municipal services related to housing, transportation, recreation/parks, urban planning, social services, and other municipal and public sector services will present both challenges and opportunities,” it says.
“It is estimated that the vast majority of Guelph residents will prefer to age successfully in their own homes and in the community,” it says.
“A comprehensive and innovative Older Adult Strategy will provide a planning framework and action plan to ensure that our community is ‘age ready’ and ‘age friendly.’ ”