Cold Lake is putting seniors front and centre with the city's age-friendly project.
Working with Cold Lake and District FCSS and the Cold Lake Seniors' Society, the municipality is initiating a study to determine what programs and resources are lacking in the community for seniors.
Cathy Aust, social programming coordinator for the local FCSS, said they're hoping to raise awareness of the issues related to aging, such as ageism, dementia, and elder abuse, while promoting a broader vision of services and opportunities for seniors.
Using funding provided by the province through Alberta Seniors Housing's Aging Well in Community Grant program, the city and its project partners will create a strategic plan for the municipality.
"Once we have a strategic plan, we will seek further funding initiatives to execute it," explained Aust.
In total, the initiative is getting $82,218 from the province.
City of Cold Lake Mayor Craig Copeland said the study is "something that needed to be done, and we're thankful the province recognized that this is something that's worthwhile."
Their plan is to work with a consultant and reach out to the community, identify the needs and wants of their target age group, conduct an infrastructure assessment, and schedule activities where they meet with seniors.
For Copeland, although seniors only make up six per cent of the population, he feels their voices are well heard and they have great ideas.
“Free use of the walking track was an initiative done by the seniors, and some were very vocal on keeping the transit free," he expressed. "They’re very active and vocal. This will be great, to get a professional with a background in this to work with the Cold Lake Seniors' Society and FCSS to explore this."
Aust said the study will answer questions like what struggles seniors encounter on a daily basis in the community and how the city can minimize those issues in order to be more inclusive.
“It’s a national, actually, a world situation, where the population of seniors is rising at a drastic rate. What are we going to do when we’re in a position when 50 per cent of our population are seniors?” she added.
Recreation, friendly visiting, dementia training, seniors programming, and elder abuse are items that will be considered throughout the creation of the plan.
Aust continued, “All of that comes into play when we’re looking at the whole picture of senior health and well-being."
The project is still in its early stages, Aust stressed, so what direction they will head and what programming is needed is still to be determined.
Regardless, they're "really excited about it," she said.