BANFF – Banff’s elected officials have passed a formal resolution to take steps toward making Banff more of an age-friendly community.
Council also directed administration to complete an age-friendly community profile and assessment ahead of 2023 service review, where any decisions coming out of the analysis would be considered.
Town of Banff officials say these are steps required in order to apply for an Alberta government Age Friendly Recognition Award, a designation that acknowledges communities that have taken concrete steps to make supports and services for seniors more accessible.
“One of the main reasons for pursuing an age-friendly community designation would be to promote healthy and active aging in one’s community,” said Shawn Carr, Banff’s manager of Family and Community Support Services and Social Programs.
“People in age-friendly communities are supported to maintain their independence and have access to the community supports and services they need.”
Mayor Corrie DiManno said Banff already does quite well for a community of its size, pointing to the seniors’ bus, Roam, taxi vouchers and barrier-free units at the municipality’s Ti’nu and the Aster affordable housing projects.
“We need to work towards being as accessible as possible,” she said.
“It’s really important for us to understand our vulnerabilities and our opportunities and our successes as it relates to folks who are aging here and folks who are living with disabilities.”
The Alberta government’s age-friendly award recognizes municipalities that have completed an age-friendly community profile, have developed an age-friendly action plan, and have secured council resolutions to actively support, promote and work towards being age-friendly.
An age-friendly assessment could include an inventory of services, programs and initiatives that already exist in the community.
It could also look at how existing assets can be expanded and modified, identify opportunities for improving age-friendliness in the community and provide a baseline and timeline for measuring progress and setting priorities.
Carr said development of the age-friendly action plan would need to be a collaborative effort involving the recently established age-friendly inclusive committee and other organizations.
He said that not all age-friendly initiatives reviewed as part of the checklist or proposed in an action plan would necessarily fall under the purview of municipal programs and services.
“Typically the action plan required as part of the provincial application identifies specific strategies that are categorized within the age-friendly domains,” he said, adding it highlights a lead organization, priority level and timeline for completion.
Several towns and municipalities have been recognized by the province for being age-friendly communities such as Lethbridge, Olds, Calgary, Edmonton, Strathcona County and Cold Lake.