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Group wants Delta to start planning for seniors' needs

Delta's Seniors Community Planning Team would like to see the municipality establish a committee to address the growing needs of seniors in the community.

Delta's Seniors Community Planning Team would like to see the municipality establish a committee to address the growing needs of seniors in the community.

The team made its pitch at last Monday night's council meeting as the group also presented a report on seniors' services and supports in the community.

The average life expectancy of Delta residents is 82 years, one of the highest in the Fraser Health region, and the population of seniors in the community is rising.

Currently, seniors make up 14 per cent of Delta's population. That number is expected to rise to 26 per cent by 2026.

In the face of that growing population, Delta's Seniors Community Planning Team is urging the municipality to establish a seniors advisory committee in the hopes of providing an important communications link to council and strengthening Delta's ability to address the growing and changing needs of local seniors, many of whom have a desire to age in place within the community.

The team looked at several keys areas, including services and support, housing and transportation.

The study identified homecare support and transportation as two of the most needed services. The team recommended establishing a seniors' advocate and "trained navigators" to help seniors work their way through complicated resource systems.

The report also recommends looking at the need for a peer counseling program and mobile services that could reach people in seniors facilities, malls, libraries and other public places.

The report also stressed the need for a range of affordable housing options. In a survey sent out to seniors, many of the respondents live in single-family homes and expressed a wish to stay there or move to other accommodations within Delta.

The team recommended the municipality employ a hub or village centre planning approach to meet future housing needs.

The group also expressed a willingness to work with other organizations, such as TransLink and the United Way, on regional transit issues. As well, it would like to see an educational program for seniors in need of transportation alternatives.

The group said that while many of the issues were studied in isolation, it is important to understand how interconnected all the elements are in the life of today's senior.

"Older residents want to remain in their homes for as long as possible, and to do so they require home support services and accessible door-to-door transport options," the report reads. "Making changes in just one of these key areas will have impacts on the other two."

Team member Gerry Bouman urged the municipality not to delay in addressing seniors' issues.

"We're seniors. We're impatient," he said. "We want to see results soon. Our clocks are ticking."

Council voted to pass the report on to municipal staff for analysis. As well, council will send a letter to TransLink inviting representatives to come to a future council meeting to discuss transit issues.