Midland seniors council looks to remember those lost to COVID-19

·3 min read

Seniors lost to COVID-19 should not be lost in memory.

That was the sentiment discussed at a recent Midland Seniors Council meeting when a member brought forward a suggestion to sponsor a bench at a local park to commemorate local long-term care home residents, who lost their lives to COVID-19.

"I organized one for my sister who passed away last May," said Barb Knechtel. "Everyone in the family has made a contribution and it's going in a special place that has memories for her, so this was fresh in my mind. It could become an annual thing, until we hit all the parks in Midland."

Coun. Cher Cunningham, who is council's representative on the committee, suggested maybe it would be a more feasible option to put plaques on existing benches.

The seniors council will further explore the idea and bring forward a motion to committee once a cost and available budget is determined. If that is approved, a report will be brought in front of town council for approval.

The group's mandate is to recommend, advocate or act as a catalyst for the introduction, improvement and enhancement of services for seniors in the Midland area.

To that end, members also discussed next steps on their age-friendly plan.

Member Frieda Baldwin suggested the committee should take a look at the Tay Township age-friendly community plan framework, which was put together simultaneously as the Town of Midland one.

"I think it would be useful that we compare notes between the two and see where we can cooperate or where it's significantly different," she said.

Member Bryde Desroches said she had been in touch with Coun. Mary Warnock, Tay's council representative on the municipal seniors advisory committee. "I talked to Mary Warnock, and they're definitely interested in collaborating with us on anything," said Desroches. "They're having a hard time finding quorum because they've lost two members, including the chair.

Knechtel volunteered to take on the task of comparing the two plans to find commonalities and differences for efficiencies. "It seems to me to make logical sense; it would be working smarter, not harder," she said.

Deborah Dion-Smith, committee vice chair, had been in touch with Penetanguishene staff to gain a better understanding of where they were in the process.

"Penetang hasn't even started with their age-friendly community plan," she said, "but they're interested in partnering with anything we come up with. At some point, they will also share any information they collect."

Knechtel said she had been in touch with Maggie Off, Tiny's community engagement coordinator, to talk about their age-friendly plan actions.

Knechtel said that Off shared that the municipality has acquired a grant allowing it to hire a coordinator to work 70 hours a month, until the end of June.

"That person has been organizing what they're calling coffee and connect drop-in sessions," said Knechtel.

Lisa Pater, project coordinator for the township seniors' program, clarified for MidlandToday that Coffee and Connect is an in-person program.

"Since we are still in the 'red zone', we are only able to have 10 seniors participate at one time," she said, adding the program will have to be postponed if the region goes back into a lockdown.

Midland Seniors Council will review its age-friendly action plan at its April 15 meeting and create a priority list for next steps.

Mehreen Shahid, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, OrilliaMatters.com