Former principal of MacLeod Elementary School and board member with the Saskatchewan Seniors Mechanism (SSM), Devona Putland, is encouraging residents of Moosomin to attend a Zoom meeting to discuss the process of making Moosomin Age-Friendly.
Putland says the March 29 meeting will focus on the process of becoming Age-Friendly as well as different ways to engage local governments to create a plan for funding to reach an Age-Friendly status.
Those who are interested are required to register by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 306-435-2272.
Putland explains that becoming Age-Friendly could benefit the community.
“Age-Friendly is an initiative within the Saskatchewan Senior Mechanism that is looking to create communities that are accessible and engaging for our senior population. It is a national program and it’s in many provinces. It’s not just a Saskatchewan initiative but it’s across the country. In Saskatchewan, we have the Saskatchewan Seniors Mechanism which has Age-Friendly as a sub-committee,” said Putland.
“In the long run, the community stands to benefit that anything that is considered friendly for seniors would also benefit other people in the community. For example, one of the things that happened in Ponteix is some of the sidewalks didn’t have accessible curbing and there were people with scooters in town who were unable to use them. But when they installed new curbings in town they found out there were all these people pushing strollers. So they found out that it was an initiative that makes the community-friendly for all ages and not just seniors.
I think in our town we attract a lot of retired people because of our medical system and I think becoming age-friendly would help promote more people to come to a community like Moosomin. We already do a great job with a lot of our community programming, but we can always get better.”
The process of becoming Age-Friendly starts with a survey that assesses the needs of the community.
When the survey is completed, the community will receive a list of items that need improvement, which can include adjustments to sidewalks, walking paths, and even employment or volunteer opportunities.
Putland believes that Moosomin is on the right track.
“There’s a survey that would go out. It asks people to take a few moments of their time to reply to the survey and that survey identifies gaps or areas where we could see improvement. I think there’s a lot of things that Moosomin already has and I think we’re on the right track. That would mean that very little would have to be done to get that designation, although there may be other areas that I don’t know about where we have work to do.
There’s a whole set of requirements for sidewalks, for example, then rest areas. Another section deals with transportation and another that deals with housing. There’s a section that deals with respect and social inclusion and participation. The inclusion of the Moosomin Prime-Timers program has been a really positive thing, for example. Then there’s the idea of communication and information systems and civic participation and employment. And then finally there’s community supports and health services. Those are the seven sections they cover in the assessment tool.”
Putland explains that the senior population does benefit the community from an economic standpoint, spending money and keeping money within the community.
“Back in the 50’s if a town was full of senior citizens it was thought the town was doomed because nobody spends money if you’re a senior citizen, but that has since changed. The thing about the 21st century is that senior citizens are spending money just like any other group and it’s not detrimental. We want a community with every demographic in it and to keep it balanced. The idea of getting a strategic plan and knowing where we’re heading is important for being prepared for the future. If we’re not prepared or ill-prepared, people will choose to go elsewhere to places that are prepared.”
While Putland believes Moosomin is on the right track, some areas need improvement, one of which is an improvement on sidewalks.
“In Moosomin we definitely have lots of work that can be done with walkways. We’ve got all of the streets that are being kept in good shape which is a wonderful thing, but people don’t really want to walk on them. But people would want to walk on a walkway instead.”
While on the board for SSM, Putland says they discussed different ways to engage local government to secure planning for the project.
While the Age-Friendly initiative does not supply any additional funding to cover the costs of improvements, they do assist in making a plan and helping budget with the communities.
“The job of the funding and the planning is a joint effort. We are all looking at just how much everything is going to cost. So it’s really important for towns to find out how much they can put on their plan and look at the projects over the coming years. And that’s all part of the strategic planning. We have to know what our needs are and figure out a plan in meeting those needs.”
Putland added that she grew an interest in this initiative after her retirement in 2014, noticing more people looking for things to do within the community.
“I know that there’s a lack of walkways, but I know also that there are more seniors.
“Now that I’m semi-retired I’m realizing that there are lots of people who are looking for activities to do and people are looking to volunteer time. Seniors are a great volunteer organization as well and this would be an opportunity for people to do a little bit of what they like because there isn’t anyone person to do it all. I just think Moosomin has just such great potential.”
She explained that obtaining an Age-Friendly status will help draw more people to Moosomin while making the lives of senior residents easier.
Spencer Kemp, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The World-Spectator