In Lanark County, Tay Valley Township is putting its money where its mouth is when it comes to creating a community where all segments of the population are welcome. In 2018, Tay Valley received a provincial Age-Friendly Community Recognition Award celebrating the strides the municipality has taken towards becoming an age-friendly community.
Provincial recognition was awarded to Tay Valley Township for its achievement in Category 1, for having established an Age-Friendly Community Action Plan. The plan is titled “Creating Rural Foundations for Elder Independence in Tay Valley Township,” and was formally adopted by Council in 2017.
The need to take action in creating a welcoming and supporting environment for older persons in Tay Valley is clear: Despite being a rural township with a population of only 5,500 year-round residents, statistics revealed the municipality has one-and-a-half times the provincial average for people over 55 years of age.
The goal of creating an age-friendly environment is to offer appropriate support for all members of the community, regardless of age. In an age-friendly community, members recognize the diversity of older persons and promote their inclusion in the community through physical and social efforts, allowing seniors to live independent, healthy and active lives.
The communities selected for the Age-Friendly Community Recognition Award are those who have prioritized a commitment to the principles for creating age-friendly communities. Before completing the Age-Friendly Plan, Tay Valley Township first created an Age-Friendly Working Group, surveyed the community to learn more about community services and the needs of older residents, and held five public meetings and two community forums.
Among the many actions identified in the plan to support an age-friendly community were to change zoning and building by-laws to allow secondary suites, co-housing options, tiny and modular homes in the community; allow garbage pick-up at the door; improve shoulders on roads to allow for scooters and safe walking/cycling; promote health resources; and enable transportation options to allow older persons to travel to other urban centres.
The time frame for achieving these and other milestones named in the plan span one or more years. The Age-Friendly Community Working Group will continue to work on implementing the recommendations from the Age-Friendly Plan. Creating an Age-Friendly Community will be an ongoing project in Tay Valley for years to come.