Burling­ton de­vel­ops an ag­ing plan to keep adults ac­tive, healthy, en­gaged

The ‘nice thing’ is that ‘the pay­off is far-reach­ing for all age groups,’ says recre­ation su­per­vi­sor

The Hamilton Spectator - - LOCAL - CARMELA FRAGOMENI cfragomeni@thespec.com 905-526-3392 | @Car­matTheSpec

Burling­ton is look­ing at its new Ac­tive Ag­ing Plan as some­thing that will ben­e­fit all ages, even though it was cre­ated for adults 55 and older.

“The nice thing about the plan is that the pay­off is far-reach­ing for all age groups,” said Mandy Newn­ham, Burling­ton’s recre­ation su­per­vi­sor of adult pro­grams.

The plan pro­poses city ac­tions to keep older adults ac­tive, healthy and en­gaged — and to help them keep their in­de­pen­dence as they age. But many of those ac­tions, such as im­prov­ing on bar­rier-free build­ings and tran­sit, ben­e­fit peo­ple of all ages as well, said Newn­ham.

It’s all part of be­com­ing an age­friendly city, much like Hamil­ton and other On­tario cities. The pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment has funded the de­vel­op­ment of age-friendly plans in 55 cities to help them pre­pare for the province’s rapidly in­creas­ing older pop­u­la­tion.

Heather Thomp­son, with the Burling­ton Age Friendly Coun­cil, is happy the city plan has a lot of “action items” re­flec­tive of the ag­ing pop­u­la­tion.

“We do feel so pleased the city is rec­og­niz­ing the im­por­tance of ac­tive ag­ing and hav­ing an age-friendly city,” she said.

Hamil­ton’s own 60-page plan came out in the fall of 2014 and the city has been chip­ping away at its 100-plus rec­om­men­da­tions since. Last year, city coun­cil up­dated the city’s strate­gic vi­sion to be both the best place to raise a child — and to age suc­cess­fully.

Burling­ton’s plan says the city is “in the midst of a con­sid­er­able de­mo­graphic shift marked by the grow­ing pro­por­tion of adults 55plus. Over the next decade, pop­u­la­tion growth among older adults is ex­pected to con­tinue to out­pace that of youth and adults.”

Older adults now make up 32 per cent of Burling­ton’s pop­u­la­tion, but are ex­pected to make up 35 per cent, or 76,000 peo­ple, by 2026 — mak­ing for a pro­jected in­crease of 71 per cent between 2006 and 2026. In con­trast, the youth and adult seg­ments are pro­jected to in­crease by 14 and 18 per cent re­spec­tively.

“It’s not un­like what’s hap­pen­ing in most com­mu­ni­ties across Canada,” said Newn­ham. “We hap­pen to

be slightly higher in Burling­ton now.”

The Burling­ton plan is pre­par­ing for that growth and build­ing on what is al­ready in place for older adults, Newn­ham said.

“We know the so­cial con­nec­tions are the most crit­i­cal,” she said.

So­cial con­nec­tions, be­ing phys­i­cally ac­tive and find­ing ser­vices that are af­ford­able are crit­i­cal to how peo­ple can age well, she added.

NIKKI WESLEY, METROLAND

The plan seeks to help adults keep their in­de­pen­dence as they age.

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