A resolution will be brought forward to town council next week, seeking a letter of commitment for a Cochrane age-friendly program.

At last night's committee-of-the-whole meeting, councillors seemed generally in favour of developing an age-friendly framework to address the needs of Cochrane's growing seniors population. 

According to Alberta Seniors and Housing, it involves making structures and services more accessible and inclusive for seniors with varying needs and capacities. The aim is to strengthen communities, improve business, and make life better for our seniors.

An age-friendly steering committee exists and Sharon Moore, who previously established a framework for elder abuse prevention in the Cochrane area, has been hired as the consultant. There is a wide representation of senior housing options and support services as well as the Cochrane Chamber of Commerce on the steering committee.

Moore gave council a wide variety of examples of what she heard when interviewing representatives of age-friendly communities in Alberta and Ontario.

She gave examples of how some have adjusted infrastructure to improve mobility, and how equipment has been incorporated into playgrounds for seniors to exercise. She says it has been identified that a different approach is needed in housing to eliminate the barricade caused by steps to the doorways.

She also zeroed in on the importance of the educational component.

"To understand what ageism is and how seniors are an active part of our community still, that they come with knowledge, and they come with great skills, So, how do we utilize them, and how do we make sure they are a part of our community? That's a huge one."

Moore said resolutions adopted by councils have varied. They have been as simple as stating a commitment to become age-friendly or have provided a more elaborate explanation of how to do it.

Cochrane's senior population is growing faster than any other age group. It has increased 172.4 per cent in the last decade, compared to the 72.9 per cent growth experienced in the 25-54 age group.  

It isn't unique to Cochrane. According to Alberta's population projections, the number of seniors will double from 2021 to 2046 and will account for one-fifth of the province's population. 

In 2019, FCSS was awarded a $30,000 grant from the Calgary Foundation to determine if there was a readiness in Cochrane to become an age-friendly community. A combination of provincial funding changes and the onset of the pandemic placed the project on hold until this January.