White Rock is officially age-friendly.
The recognition – confirmed in a June 14 letter to the city from the provincial ministry of health and shared with the public at last week’s council meeting – “acknowledges your leadership in making changes to ensure British Columbians can age actively, live in security, enjoy good health and continue to participate fully in society.”
What exactly those changes were, however, was a mystery to White Rock city council.
“Maybe they watched us in action on TV and decided, ‘these guys need all the help they can get,’” quipped Mayor Wayne Baldwin, in response to a question posed by Coun. Louise Hutchinson.
The letter, received June 18, describes White Rock as one of the first communities to receive Age-Friendly BC Recognition. It includes the promise of a commemorative award and a $1,000 grant; funds that can be used to help with an age-friendly legacy project and to recognize those who have worked on the city’s initiative.
According to provincial government news releases, Premier Christy Clark announced the Age-Friendly BC program last September, along with $650,000 in grants.
An additional $750,000 was announced for the program in February – including a $20,000 grant for White Rock, earmarked to “enhance awareness of community resources and emergency planning.”
Applications for age-friendly recognition this year were accepted until Feb. 29.
To qualify, communities must show that they have met criteria that focus on seniors’ engagement, commitment, assessment and action.
According to studies, an age-friendly community provides welcoming public spaces, accessible transportation, affordable housing options and employment and volunteer opportunities, as well as information and services which fit the needs of seniors.
White Rock’s experience will be shared on the SeniorsBC website and in the BC Healthy Communities newsletter, the letter states.
Coun. Helen Fathers questioned how the $1,000 will be used, given that the city no longer has a health and social committee.
Baldwin said a healthy community initiative suggested by the Peace Arch Hospital and Community Health Foundation “would be an entirely appropriate venue to work through.”