Heather Treleaven, left, is with the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows-Katzie Seniors Network, which has spearheaded the age friendly cities initiative with the City of Maple Ridge. (THE NEWS/files)

Maple Ridge officially a WHO age-friendly city

City a member of World Health Organization's global network

The City of Maple Ridge is a member of the World Health Organization global network for age-friendly cities and communities, because of its sustained commitment and work to make Maple Ridge an age-friendly place to live, work and play.

The city is the third community in B.C. to receive the recognition, said a press release from city hall recently.

Membership in the network includes access to information sharing and networking, support from a global network of advocates committed to fostering age-friendly environments, recognition through the WHO website and opportunities for collaboration and sharing best practices on international research projects.

The city launched its age-friendly community initiative in 2008 with an extensive community consultation process. Since this time, and in partnership with the Maple Ridge Pitt Meadows Katzie Seniors Network, great strides have been made in developing initiatives to make the city more welcoming for people of all ages, including development of a seniors emergency preparedness guide; walkability studies of the downtown core; dementia friendly community planning and currently in the works is a seniors’ online mapping application and wayfinding project. As a result, in 2016 the city received the age-friendly community designation from the province, the release said.

“The Age-friendly Community project has been a tremendous opportunity for local seniors to lead the way in evaluating our community and engaging with a number of agencies to look at what we can do to make Maple Ridge more accessible and inclusive for everyone,” explained Heather Treleaven, seniors network coordinator.

“We’ve taken a series of small steps that together have led to some important changes and a body of work we’re very proud of.”

These achievements are the result of ongoing support and leadership from the seniors network, the municipal advisory committee on accessibility and inclusiveness and a variety of local and provincial partners who collaborate with the city to create an inclusive and accessible community.

The WHO Global Network for Age-friendly Cities and Communities was established in 2010 to connect cities, communities and organizations worldwide with the common vision of making their community a great place to age in. The network currently includes 705 cities representing communities from 39 countries. Membership is based on a municipality’s commitment to listen to the needs of the aging population through the implementation, evaluation and ongoing monitoring of its age-friendly initiative and strategy.

Invitation to join the WHO Global Network reflects the significant progress the city has achieved in fostering participation for older people in community life and promoting healthy and active aging for residents of all ages.

In 2007, the WHO released Global Age-Friendly Cities: A Guide, which identifies eight aspects or ‘dimensions’ of community life that overlap and interact to directly affect older adults. This policy framework recognizes that older people face increasing challenges due to the sensory, physiological and other changes that age brings.

The eight aspects of age-friendly community living are:

1. Outdoor Spaces and Buildings – Outdoor spaces and public buildings are pleasant, clean, secure and physically accessible.

2. Transportation – Public transportation is accessible and affordable.

3. Housing – Housing is affordable, appropriately located, well built, well designed and secure.

4. Social Participation – Opportunities exist for social participation in leisure, social, cultural and spiritual activities with people of all ages and cultures.

5. Respect and Social Inclusion – Older people are treated with respect and are included in civic life.

6. Civic Participation and Employment – Opportunities for employment and volunteerism cater to older persons’ interests and abilities.

7. Communication and Information – Age-friendly communication and information is available.

8. Community Support and Health Services – Community support and health services are tailored to older persons’ needs.

9. Emergency Preparedness – Emergency plans and procedures are in place to care for our older adults in the event of an emergency or natural disaster.

For more information about the initiative in Maple Ridge please contact Petra Frederick, community coordinator, by email at pfrederick@mapleridge.ca or by phone at 604-467-7355.

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