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NEWS RELEASE · 8th February 2012
Ministry of Health & UBCM
Fifty-two communities receive Age-friendly BC grants

Seniors in every region of B.C. will benefit as 52 local governments receive age-friendly grants to support older residents in staying healthy and active in the community.

One element of Age-friendly BC is a partnership between the Province and the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) to provide grants of up to $20,000 to local governments, through UBCM's age-friendly planning and project grant program, to help establish or continue a variety of projects, from improved transportation options for seniors to community gardens.

In September 2011, Premier Christy Clark announced the launch of Age-friendly BC, a grant and recognition program to help local governments create environments that support the good health and community participation of seniors. Due to an overwhelming response from communities, the Province has provided an additional $750,000 to further support age-friendly community planning and projects.

Examples of age-friendly community changes include widening sidewalks, installing benches, maximizing green space, and making information, programs and services more accessible to the older population.

More than 120 B.C. communities have completed some form of age-friendly initiative to date, ranging from setting public policy to making physical improvements to address the needs of older residents. With this round of grants, 100 local governments will have received grant funding for age-friendly planning and projects since 2007.

The Age-friendly BC program focuses on providing communities with support, information and recognition to help meet the needs of an aging population. Local governments can achieve age-friendly recognition and officially become an Age-friendly BC community once they have completed four basic steps that focus on community engagement, commitment, assessment and action.

Until Feb. 29, 2012, local governments can apply to be recognized using applications available on: www.seniorsbc.ca/agefriendly

Quotes:

Michael de Jong, Minister of Health is quoted as stating;

"Seniors are the cornerstone of families and communities. Through Age-friendly BC, local governments have worked hard to create programs and tools that allow seniors to be healthier, active members of the community. These communities are demonstrating that even modest improvements can make a real difference in the lives of seniors."

Ron Cantelon, Parliamentary Secretary for Seniors to the Minister of Health is quoted as stating;

"In an age-friendly British Columbia, older people are supported to live active, socially engaged, independent lives. These grants reflect our work with local governments, the Union of British Columbia Municipalities and other partners to achieve a vision where people of all ages and abilities feel included and valued in their communities."

Heath Slee the president of the UBCM (Union of British Columbia Municipalities) is quoted as stating;

"We are proud to partner with the Province on the Age-friendly BC program and it is wonderful to see how many B.C. communities completed some form of age-friendly initiative to support the needs of their older residents."

Mayor Ernie Daykin of the District of Maple Ridge is quoted as stating;

"In Maple Ridge we have a variety of projects underway to support our elders in the community, and I am thrilled that we have received funding to develop a volunteer program with the Ridge Meadows Seniors Society."

Quick Facts:

* By 2031, close to 1.5 million British Columbians, or almost a quarter of the province's population, will be over 65.

* Since 2007, the Ministry of Health has supported communities across B.C. by providing tools to help them respond to an aging population:

o In June 2011, the Province - in partnership with the BC Chamber of Commerce-launched a guide entitled 'Creating an Age-friendly Business in B.C.' for businesses to address the needs of older customers and employees.

o In September 2011, B.C. launched 'Becoming an Age-friendly Community: Local Government Guide', a new tool for local governments, community organizations or local champions to help them create an age-friendly community.

o B.C. has 18 BC Seniors Community Parks - located right across the province - that are designed to help older adults stay mobile, physically active, and healthy in their communities.

o The easy-to-read B.C. Seniors' Guide contains information on a range of topics including transportation options, housing, health services and healthy living. It is also available in Chinese, Punjabi and French translations and includes telephone numbers and website information for frequently used resources.

o In 2009, the Province partnered with the United Way of the Lower Mainland to develop and pilot the Community Action for Seniors' Independence (CASI) project in five communities - including Maple Ridge. CASI gives seniors access to a range of non-medical home support services such as transportation, housekeeping, home repair, yard maintenance, friendly visiting and information to help them remain independent longer.

Learn More:

For more information on Age-friendly BC, please visit:
http://www.seniorsbc.ca/agefriendly/.

Want your community recognized as age-friendly? Learn how:
http://www.seniorsbc.ca/agefriendly/communities/recognition.html.

Want to know how to make your business more accessible to seniors? The
guide, Creating an Age-friendly Business in B.C., is available at any BC
Chamber of Commerce or online at:
http://www.seniorsbc.ca/agefriendly/businesses/becoming_agefriendly.html.

Looking for general information on seniors and seniors' services? Visit:
http://www.seniorsbc.ca