It's a terribly kept secret that the population of Canada is aging. Baby boomers are entering their retirement years, and that number has no where to go but up. So it begs the question, is your community ready to deal with a population that's getting an older, or, if you're getting older, is your community ready to deal with you? Well, if your community is Guelph, you'll be pleased to know that the World Health Organization has now certified the Royal City as a great place to live if you're old. Guelph - like Brussels, Seoul, Tehran, New York City, and many more - is now a member of the Global Network of Age-friendly Cities and Communities.
Here's the press release from the City of Guelph:
Guelph, ON, December 19, 2014 – The City of Guelph’s commitment to be an age-friendly community has been recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Late last month, Guelph was accepted as a member of the Global Network of Age-friendly Cities and Communities for its promise to make Guelph a great place to live and age well.
More than 250 cities and communities in 27 countries have joined the Network as a part of a growing global movement of cities and communities striving to meet the needs of older residents. By 2031, Guelph’s population will be 175,000 with 57,000 people over the age of 55.
“Being a part of the Network gives us efficient and effective ways to learn about age-friendly initiatives that are already working in other communities,” says Mayor Cam Guthrie.
The two-year membership gives the City access to new resources like agefriendlyworld.org; an online platform where members share experiences and good practices as well as pose questions and discuss challenges.
“In Guelph, we are creating a community that encourages healthy and active aging and the well-being of older people. Being a part of the Network allows us to share information across a global platform and receive guidance on becoming an age-friendly community,” says Wendy Kornelsen, manager of Senior Services.
The City is also establishing a Community Older Adult Leadership Team to guide the actions needed to make Guelph age friendly. The team will work to ensure Guelph is a place that helps people stay healthy and active regardless of age.
About WHO age-friendly cities and communities
WHO age-friendly cities and communities recognize the wide range of capacities and resources among older people; anticipate and respond flexibly to aging-related needs and preferences; respect older people’s decisions and lifestyle choices; protect those who are vulnerable; and promote older people’s inclusion in and contribution to all areas of community life.
About Guelph’s Older Adult Strategy
The purpose of the strategy is to create an age-friendly community that supports older adults to live in security, maintain their health and participate fully in society. In response, the City will adapt its structure and services to be accessible and inclusive of older people with varying needs and capacities.
Not for nothing, but if Guelph wants to push further the idea that this is age-friendly community, a good place to look at is traffic signals, specifically walk signals. Many of them in this town are far too quick to turn from the walking signal to the flashing hand, and if you can't immediately step off the curb when the light turns because of traffic, you might not make it even halfway across the street before that hand starts blinking. Then there are the corners where you have to hit the button in order to change the light, otherwise the walk signal doesn't come up at all. As a pedestrian unimpeded by physical handicap or infirmity with age, I find it tough enough to navigate this city. Still, it's nice to know as our population gets older, Guelph is ready to respond.