Backgrounder: Seniors Platform

New Westminster recently celebrated the 60thanniversary of Century House, the first seniors’ resource centre created in Canada. In 1958, New Westminster was ahead of its time in creating a supportive space for its increasing seniors population, and in empowering senior volunteers in the community to nurture their own social networks and programming. The City has continued to support these programs and services to ensure our seniors remain active, healthy, and emotionally and socially supported in their community. Century House has seen four additions over the years, including the addition of a Youth Centre, and remains the heart of the seniors community in New Westminster, thanks to this collaborative model. Century House is also home to the first, and to the best of our knowledge, only seniors gay-straight alliance in Canada.

The City has done significant work to make sure New Westminster remains a community that is friendly to our diverse seniors population, including an Action Plan that grew from New Westminster’s designation as the first Dementia Friendly Cityin Canada, improved accessibility for pedestrian areas, and work to prevent “demovictions” and “renovictions” that disproportionately impact seniors. In 2017, New Westminster Council endorsed an Age-Friendly Community Strategy. We support these initiatives, and want to go further, recognizing that the seniors population in New Westminster is projected to grow from 12,000 people now to more than 25,000 by 2040. We envision a Seniors Strategy that prioritizes these three key areas: 

  • Building public spaces appropriate for seniors;
  • Addressing seniors housing needs;
  • Helping seniors stay active and establish healthy social networks.

Public Space: Our Public Spaces need to be places that seniors find comfortable and safe, and that they can easily navigate. There are opportunities throughout the City to remove barriers and give seniors more freedom and flexibility to move about, enjoy, and contribute to the vitality of our community:

Housing:Seniors are often overlooked in discussions of the regional housing crisis, yet they are one of the most impacted groups. Many seniors live on a fixed income which is not keeping up with the escalating cost of housing, and seniors are most likely to lose vital social and community connections when forced to change housing. Our goal is for the City to support seniors “aging in place” — in their current home or in the same neighbourhood — so they can maintain community connections so crucial to the security and well-being of seniors. 

Social Networks: We must continue to ensure our City assets and programs are developed with a focus on the evolving needs of the growing number of seniors that call New Westminster home.