aging-conference-fullBy Anne Finlay-Stewart

The new Council on Aging Grey Bruce Owen Sound initiative held its fourth of five regional introductory meetings at the Owen Sound Legion on Monday. The Council, born of a March 2014 Seniors' Summit, is intended to give voice to seniors' concerns, providing input at all levels of government and agencies to encourage quality services and programs. "Seniors helping seniors, championing good results from past work and building a local policy approach to issues" is how steering committee member Mike Traynor described the "muscle and meat" of the initiative.

Questions raised from the floor were not so much about the Council itself but included concerns about transportation, housing, isolation, and accessibility of services. Jan Chamberlain, chair of the steering committee, commented that it was exactly the kind of conversation that she expects to happen at the regional committees, each of which will have representation on the Council. "Will there be action on local issues? It all depends on these committees," said Traynor.

Joan Beecroft noted that at least ten percent of those in attendance at this preliminary meeting self-identified as lesbian, gay, bi-sexual or trans (LGBT) and was pleased that these voices are represented. "Accessibility" she said "is more than buses, ramps and elevators."

Attendees were invited to share their experience and skills on their applications for one of the five regional advisory committees or the Council itself. Staff at Active Lifestyles Centre Owen Sound (formerly Owen Sound and Area Senior's Centre) will help review the applications and offer help and support to the new groups.OSA Active Lifestyles Logo sm

Dave Bradley, member of the steering committee representing a region of the United Senior Citizens of Ontario which will also be represented on the Council, spoke of his conviction that the Council on Aging would be a success because it would be driven by senior volunteers with a vested interest in the outcome. "Existing groups working on these issues will get on the bus. And when that bus blows its horn, it will be heard."

Of the 84 points on a check-list for Age Friendly Communities prepared by the World Health Organization and distributed at the meeting, fewer than half a dozen would be of benefit exclusively to seniors. Everyone in the community stands to gain as age-friendly goals such as "reliable, frequent public transportation", "sufficient and affordable housing in areas that are safe" and "clean and pleasant outdoor spaces" are championed by the new Council on Aging.

Anne Finlay-Stewart is the Publisher and Editor of the Owen Sound Hub. She can be reached at [email protected]



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