Age & Ability Friendly Communities
An age and ability friendly city adapts its structures and services to be accessible to persons with varying needs and capacities. The City of New Westminster is committed to creating an age and ability friendly city, encouraging active ageing and inclusion by optimizing opportunities for health, participation and security.
In August 2016, the City was approached by the University of British Columbia’s School of Community and Regional Planning (SCARP) as to its interest in participating in a Studio Project. The City submitted several ideas, one of which was the development of an Age-Friendly Community (City) Strategy. This idea was selected and City staff and three SCARP graduate students are developing the strategy, which is based on extensive research and consultation. When complete in March or April of 2017, the City will apply to be officially recognized as an Age-Friendly British Columbia community.
The City of New Westminster, with funding support from the Province of British Columbia and in partnership with the Alzheimer Society of B.C. and the Fraser Health Authority, has developed the first Dementia-Friendly Community Action Plan in British Columbia. The plan, which includes 47 City actions, will raise public awareness and understanding about dementia and help to ensure that City facilities, infrastructure, programs and services are accessible to and inclusive of people living with dementia.
The City of New Westminster has developed a Seniors Engagement Toolkit with the purpose of increasing senior civic engagement. Including proven practices for engaging seniors, it will help ensure that civic policies, programs and services are more responsive to the needs of seniors.
To explore age-friendly city concept, the City of New Westminster consulted with seniors to be better understand their needs. Subjects completed a Checklist of Essential Features of Age Friendly Cities, developed by the World Health Organization as part of its Global Age Friendly Cities Project.
46 seniors completed the checklist. The average age of respondents was 72, with the range from 58 to 92. 70% of respondents reported a disability or mobility limitations.
The checklist was primarily intended as the basis for the development of an age-friendly lens which would inform planning and development in New Westminster. Additionally, the results will be shared with civic departments to address immediate issues such as inaccessible public places and potential trip hazards.