City of Coquitlam reacts to aging population
By Colten Kamlade, Staff Reporter
An aging population has prompted the City of Coquitlam to adopt a new strategy for improving services gauged towards its senior community.
The City started working on the Seniors Services Strategy back in 2016, and has been consulting with Coquitlam residents throughout the process to better understand their perspectives, according to the City of Coquitlam website.
“The work has included … consultation through four public workshops, two online surveys of hundreds of older adults and seniors, workshops for Council Advisory Committees and the 50+ Pavilion advisory boards, and a significant number of written submissions from individuals and community,” the City’s website stated.
When the draft was written up, the feedback appeared to be largely positive. Several changes were still made, however, based on what the community suggested. The document now has a greater focus on seniors who are living in isolation, with disabilities, or are unable to afford programs offered within the community.
According to the Coquitlam City website, the strategy will focus on access and inclusion, program and service delivery, communication and collaboration, and volunteer/staff resources. Inclusiveness is especially emphasized in the strategy.
“The concept of overcoming barriers is a recurring thread in the strategy document, which was developed with extensive consultation and research to determine why—and why not—people who are 50-plus access City programs and services. Barriers are varied and include finances, transportation, physical and mental health, culture, language, and perception,” the website stated.
The Seniors Services Strategy takes the subject of culture and language quite seriously. According to the document, 520,075 immigrants call the City of Coquitlam home. Immigrating is a difficult experience for almost anyone, but is made even more burdensome for seniors who do not have English as their first language. The Seniors Services Strategy acknowledges this struggle.
“The ability to access support services and affordable opportunities for learning, recreation and social engagement are vital to a positive transition to living in Coquitlam for many new immigrant older adults and seniors,” the document stated.
It also included the story of a senior who had emigrated from Iran. At first, her adult children were able to assist her, but they eventually became busy and she had to branch out and develop new relationships. The activities at Glen Pine provided her the opportunity to do this.
“It is very beneficial and very good emotionally. It’s like medicine for seniors,” she said, according to the website.