Committed To Becoming More Age-Friendly
An important aspect of the City of Waterloo’s vision is to be a caring community of vibrant neighbourhoods where people support each other, and a city that is accessible to all. With this vision forming the foundation of the city’s strategic plan, an important goal for the community is to strive to be an increasingly age-friendly city.
With the support of the mayor of Waterloo, an age-friendly multi-agency city advisory committee was formed in January 2010 to collaborate with the community and local partners, including the University of Waterloo, on ways to foster healthy and active ageing in Waterloo. Waterloo later joined the WHO Global Network of Age-friendly Cities and Communities as part of its commitment towards building an age-friendly city.
Waterloo’s age-friendly committee aims to engage the community in better understanding what would constitute a truly age-friendly Waterloo. Through engagement opportunities, such as annual mayor’s forums on an age-friendly city, a number of findings and priorities were uncovered and presented to Waterloo’s council in the form of a report to the mayor. The report contains a summary of the work done to date by this committee along with community partners including the numerous forums and outreach programs. The report formed a baseline for the city and also included an action plan to assist the city in being a community that fosters healthy and active ageing. This report was approved and endorsed by Waterloo’s city council in June 2013.
One of the recommendations from the committee’s action plan was to develop an older adult housing directory. In addition to basic information such as contact details, cost, number of units, unit sizes and level of care available, this directory also provides information about amenities provided at each location and in the surrounding neighbourhoods. The age-friendly multi-agency city advisory committee also identified a need for more affordable and centrally located housing. In 2017, through the Supportive Housing of Waterloo agency, a new nine-unit affordable apartment building for seniors in the core area of the city was opened to address the identified need stated in the age-friendly multi-agency city advisory committee’s action report.
On June 15, 2017, to mark World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, the Elder Abuse Prevention Council of Waterloo and the Age-friendly Waterloo Multi-Agency Committee co-hosted a free lunch and learn themed around the importance of inclusion for elder abuse prevention.
In March, 2018, Waterloo received the 2018 Ontario Age-Friendly Community Recognition Award from the Province of Ontario. This award celebrates the work of Ontario municipalities who strive to be age-friendly and who showcase promising practices across the province. Communities selected for the award demonstrate a strong commitment to key principles of creating age-friendliness, including engagement with local seniors, collaboration with a diversity of community partners and significant impact on the local community.
In 2018, Waterloo’s age-friendly committee prepared a formal evaluation of the city through an age-friendly lens. The purpose of the evaluation was to review the City of Waterloo’s challenges and areas of strength as an aspiring age-friendly community. Four of the eight age-friendly city domains identified by the World Health Organization were examined: housing; community support and health services; respect, social inclusion and social participation; and communications and information. These four areas were selected as priority domains from Waterloo’s age-friendly needs assessment conducted in 2010 as part of the process for determining a city-wide action plan. The evaluation is based on data collected from three focus groups. The vast majority were older adult residents (age 55 and over) of the City of Waterloo. Quantitative and qualitative data was collected from research participants through surveys and focus group discussions.
For more information about Waterloo’s Age-Friendly Cities committee, please visit www.waterloo.ca/agefriendly.