Few topics generate as much talk on the Sunshine Coast these days as housing, and that held true for the June 25 age-friendly housing forum in Sechelt.
Around 50 people turned up for the Sunshine Coast Seniors Planning Table event.
The forum was organized to give residents information about resources available in the community, the work toward an age-friendly community plan for the District of Sechelt (which will also be shared with other local governments), and to hear their stories.
Seniors Planning Table coordinator Alison Leaney told Coast Reporter, “The community is engaged, and a lot of people care about each other. I think that is one of the themes that came out of the housing event. People really saw that knowing our neighbours and being connected, which is still possible on the Sunshine Coast, is a really important thing that we can all do.”
Leaney said another theme that emerged was the idea that age-friendly housing and neighbourhoods aren’t necessarily a seniors issue alone. She pointed to the example that making a neighbourhood easier for seniors to move around in also makes it easier for young mothers with strollers.
She also said there was a sense that Sunshine Coasters are interested in finding ways they can contribute to solutions on a variety of housing issues. “People want to be able to do what they can themselves about the lack of housing affordability and availability on the Coast,” Leaney said. “There are people who want to know how they can start a co-op [and] what they can do in their neighbourhoods to help people age in place.”
People at the forum were asked to fill out a brief survey that included questions about age, whether they own or rent, family situation, etc. Leaney said the information will help fill a gap left by lack of a mandatory long form census.
“Loss of the mandatory long form census means that we lost some important information to be able to plan for what people need in a community,” she said. “It was just an attempt to get a bit of a snapshot of the people there.”
Leaney says that information, other feedback from the forum, a new Sunshine Coast Vital Signs survey, and the newly re-instated mandatory long form census will all help in drafting the age-friendly community plan and the other work of the Seniors Planning Table.