Town seeks public input for age-friendly action plan

Extended care facility named one of top priorities for plan.

After being approved for an age-friendly action plan grant in March, the Town of Lake Cowichan is taking its next step forward in making the town more friendly for seniors. Town officials will be meeting with the Cowichan Lake Golden Agers Society (CLGAS) this weekend, and are inviting the public to add their input to the discussion.

Residents of all ages are invited to participate in a community workshop this Saturday (May 23) from 2 to 4 p.m. at the 50 Plus Activity Centre. The workshop will explore the character of Lake Cowichan’s aging population, services currently catering to seniors, challenges and opportunities for housing, mobility, community support and health services.

In a recent press release, the Town of Lake Cowichan identified the goals of the age-friendly action plan as: helping seniors be physically and mentally active; ensuring older people remain engaged in all aspects of community life, politically, socially and inter-generationally; supporting seniors to live independent and healthy lives for as long as possible; and helping seniors live here comfortably until they die.

The latter point was expanded on as including “the full spectrum of housing, including extended care facilities.” Mayor Ross Forrest and members of town council have previously acknowledged Lake Cowichan’s need for a long-term care facility for seniors, which has proven to be a high priority for residents for many years.

It was also noted that transportation, employment and volunteer opportunities, information and services tailored to seniors and seniors “gaining a measure of respect and inclusion within the community” are all planned to be identified within the plan.

Following the town’s grant approval, a volunteer group was formed to facilitate various aspects of the plan, including the possible formation of a senior care facility. David Lowther, one of the initial members of the volunteer group, explained that town council’s role in the coming years will be to “agitate the need” for a senior care facility, as issues of health are not typically left to municipal governments.

“All [the Town] can do is lobby and support us in principle, they can’t just wave a magic wand and make it happen,” he said. “It’s going to be a long, boring process — but that’s good, as long as it works.”

Residents from surrounding areas are invited to attend the May 23 meeting as well, as proposed services are not limitied to Lake Cowichan’s boundaries. For more information, contact CAO Joseph Fernandez at 250-749-6681.