Main Street in Dartmouth will be the city’s first official age-friendly community.
The Main Street Dartmouth Business Improvement District is working on an age-friendly plan they hope to finish this month. The age-friendly distinction is in accordance with the World Health Organization, which publishes a list of communities worldwide.
It’s not just about creating neighbourhoods conducive to seniors, says David Harrison, a consultant who is working with several Nova Scotia municipalities on their plans. “The message is: if you plan for the elderly than you pick up everyone else,” he says.
Many issues are the same in rural, suburban, and urban communities, Harrison says. Seniors are moving away to facilities in the cores of Halifax, Dartmouth, and Bedford. There are also issues around transportation, accessibility, access to community supports and isolation.
For their plan, Greg Fong, developer and president of the Main Street Dartmouth Business Improvement District, says accessibility is key. “The problem is we have an aging demographic and things are going to change,” Fong says. “It’s important we design our community for the future and that includes the recognition we need to fulfill the needs of elderly people as well as young people.”
Graziella Grbac, executive director of Main Street Dartmouth Business Improvement District, says they want to create a neighbourhood not just for seniors but for people of all ages. She says it’s important seniors can stay in their neighbourhood and if they must move, then it should be to an assisted-living facility nearby.
“We don’t just want to wave a piece of paper and say look how great we are, we have a plan,” Gbrac says. “We want to talk about what we can actually do to make our vision here.”