Penticton is taking steps toward becoming recognized by the Province of B.C. as an age-friendly designated community. City Council has endorsed Penticton’s Age-Friendly Action Plan, which followed an extensive engagement process.
On May 4, 2021, Council directed staff to work with the Province and other community partners to prepare an application for the age-friendly designation. This page outlines the process so far, including recommended actions from the Age-Friendly Action Plan.
What is an Age-Friendly Community?
An age-friendly community is a place where older adults can live active, socially engaged and independent lives. Here in Penticton, we want to ensure people of all backgrounds, ages and abilities feel welcome and included.
Penticton’s Age-Friendly Action Plan aligns with these key elements, as identified by the World Health Organization (WHO).
- Outdoor spaces and public buildings pleasant, clean, secure and accessible.
- Public transportation is accessible and affordable.
- Housing is affordable and secure.
- Opportunities exist for social activities.
- Older adults are treated with respect and feel included.
- There are opportunities for employment and volunteering.
- Older adults have access to age-friendly information and communication.
- Community support and health services are tailored to an older adult's needs.
About Penticton's Age-Friendly Action Plan
The City received a $25,000 grant from the Union of BC Municipalities (UBCM) to prepare the plan. Staff worked with a project advisory group, consultant and the public through various engagement opportunities to complete an assessment of age-friendly features of the community, identify priorities and develop specific action items.
The action planning project was implemented over 5 months (September 2020 – January 2021), during the global COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, engagement used electronic tools such as video meetings, phone calls and the shapeyourcitypenticton.ca engagement platform, which had over 1,000 visits, resulting in 64 ideas and 28 images or links.
Major Areas of Focus
The following information was pulled from Penticton’s Age-Friendly Action Plan. Recommended actions are based on community priorities identified through the public engagement process, as well as evidence-based practice in alignment with healthy built environments/social environments viewed through an age-friendly lens.
The goal of interventions in the outdoor environment is to plan and design the built environment and public spaces with awareness of the needs of – and in consultation with – older people, recognizing their diversity.
To support aging in place, initiatives to create age-friendly outdoor environments focus on retrofitting existing neighbourhoods in addition to following good practice in the design of new neighbourhoods.
- Principles of ‘universal design’ and ‘complete streets’ are included in Penticton’s Official Community Plan (OCP)
- Many accessible walking areas, including benches and sidewalks in core downtown areas and beaches
- Beautification improvements in the core downtown areas
- Seniors Drop-In Centre and planned park area improvements
Areas for Improvement
- Streetscapes, including lower curbs and alignment at crossings, and improved sidewalk/trail connections
- Public washrooms that are clean, accessible and open all year
- More greenspaces/linear parks along sidewalks/trails, with benches and shade (e.g., along the canal)
- Plan for retrofitting older neighbourhoods for accessibility (e.g., curb cuts, lighting)
- Incorporation of ramps and automatic doors for older businesses
- Annual community audit activity (e.g., participatory mapping) to get public support for identifying and improving problems associated with street crossings, lights, sidewalks, accessible buildings, and density of bus stops
- Development of a ‘business accessibility strategy’ in partnership with the business community
- Plan for expanding the availability of all-season public toilets
The goal of interventions focused on transport and mobility is to promote safe, accessible, appropriate and reliable transport services and infrastructure for active living. The aim is to enable people to maintain their mobility, independence and connections as they get older.
- Good downtown and beach area walkability
- Recent approval of the lake-to-lake bike lane
- Kneeling buses and HandyDART bus services
- Volunteer driver programs
Areas for Improvement
- More multi-use paths to support active transportation3
- Longer hours for bus service; improved regional bus service
- Improved on-demand transportation options (e.g., Uber)
- Review the Transportation Master Plan and strengthen the focus on aging and accessibility, including supports for active transportation
- Improve transportation between the Recreation Centre and the Senior’s Drop-In Centre (improved north-south connection)
- Create a map of accessible walking, biking and transit networks (e.g., local age and ability map book)
- Improve hours of bus service and consider making buses free for specific times/users
- Improve bus drop-off areas downtown and at the mall (Cherry Lane Mall)
- Expand on-demand transportation options (e.g., volunteer drivers, Uber, HandyDART)
The goal of interventions related to housing is to provide adequate, accessible, safe and affordable housing. This includes a more seamless continuum of housing choices and support for aging-in-place through measures modifying existing housing stock and making newly-built houses better adjusted to older people’s needs.
- Official Community Plan (OCP) and development support for increased density and diverse neighbourhoods
- OCP focus on sustainability and energy efficiency
- Strong network of seniors’ residential care and non-profit organizations
Areas for Improvement
- Need for broader housing choices that support independence for all income levels
- Supports for multi-generational communities and designs that support social engagement
- Need for promoting and supporting ‘visitable homes’ strategies for new builds and renovations
- More elder care options (e.g., expand Adult Day Program services, housing options that allow for pets) to provide flexibility and respite for families and care providers so that older adults can remain in their homes for longer
- Provide accessible design workshops for developers and renovation contractors with leadership from City planners (e.g., designs that encourage wider hallways and charging stations for mobility aids, developments with fewer stairs and inclusion of local corner stores)
- Develop local program to increase uptake of supports for home adaptations that encourage independent living and support home care for as long as possible (including falls risk assessments)
- Include older adults and service organizations in the Housing Needs Assessment planning process (as per the OCP)
- Create incentives for housing diversity (e.g., intergenerational housing program, public/ private partnership, partnership with First Nations)
- Provide funding support for home delivery systems, especially for meals/groceries
- Provide communication supports for ‘text alerts’ and ‘friendly call’ initiatives for older adults at risk of isolation in their homes (e.g., proactive check-in service)
- Develop an economic development plan focused on training and retention for support workers providing elder care in the community (also see Community and Health Services)
The goal of interventions in this focus area is to promote older adults’ participation in social life and to combat loneliness and isolation.
This can be achieved by creating, maintaining and promoting supportive environments that enable social interaction and active lifestyles. This includes opportunities for meaningful social activities that encourage older adults to leave their homes.
- Activities and events for older adults at the Recreation Centre and the Seniors’ Drop-in Centre, including lower fees for older adults
- Arts and culture organizations with community-based activities
- Community festivals and events
- Day trips organized by community non-profit organizations and their partners
Areas for Improvement
- More recreation activities targeted to people with disabilities
- Increased promotion of available programs and activities for older adults, including available transportation
- Increased inclusion of older adults in planning community events, and promotion of intergenerational events (e.g., One World Festival and youth/elder cooking lessons)
- Infrastructure support (e.g., physical space, transportation) for local non-profit and community-based initiatives to support provision of services
- More engagement of businesses around promoting age-friendly environments
- Collaborate with the school district to locate child care and after-school centres with residential and day centres for older adults; Develop a plan to use school buses during school hours for community transport of older adults
- Continue to expand and improve accessibility of community gardens
- Provide resources to expand ‘friendly visitor’ programs
- Provide support for intergenerational reading groups, talks and lectures through organizations such as the library, the museum and the art gallery
- Promote the community as a place for accessible holidays and older adult tourism
The goal of interventions in this area is to create environments that are socially inclusive places, where all people – regardless of age, gender, social position, health or disability – are respected and have opportunities to participate and contribute.
To enhance equity, it is crucial to complement population-based interventions with targeted efforts. This means reaching out to people most at risk of poor health and exclusion, understanding their specific needs and promoting their health and quality of life.
- Intergenerational programs and activities for new Canadians (e.g., South Okanagan Immigrant Community Services) and Indigenous people (e.g., Ooknakane Friendship Centre)
- Provincial level Seniors Abuse and Information Line (SAIL): http://seniorsfirstbc.ca/
- Community Response Network (part of the BC Community Response Network for stopping adult abuse and neglect)
Areas for Improvement
- Support for culture-specific activities led by ethnic and minority groups
- Improve monitoring of abuse, neglect and fraud involving older adults at the local level
- Improve targeted supports for vulnerable older adults and their families, especially those aged 85 and older, and those with mental health challenges, including dementia
- Public campaign to raise awareness about the roles for public, media and local business in combating ageism and related stigma (e.g., celebrate older adults in the community and share their stories; promote BC Seniors’ Week annually)
- Development of a local charter of rights of older people and promotion of quality standards in long-term care
- Collaborate with local partners to develop a fraud awareness toolkit
- Implement a small grants programs to promote social inclusion and intergenerational activity at the neighbourhood level
- Explore offering a volunteer grandparent/adopt-a-grandparent program
- Develop and promote intergenerational cooking and/or computer courses/activities in partnership between the City and non-profit organizations (e.g., One World Festival cooking classes)
The goal of interventions in this focus area is to make better use of the potential of people ageing in our community by creating more and better opportunities for older people to engage in political, economic and public life. This includes increasing employment, social engagement and volunteering opportunities for older people.
- Local volunteer opportunities through the Recreation Centre and local non-profit organizations Areas for Improvement
- Increased involvement of the business community in ensuring age-friendly workplaces and services
- Creation of a central mechanism to collect feedback from older people on using services targeted to them, and strategies to improve quality of services from an older adult perspective (e.g., Vernon Nexus BC resource centre)
- Creation of an age-friendly advisory committee to support city council and staff (see also, Recommended Actions – Capacity Building)
- Develop a recognition program to increase the profile of older volunteers and their contribution to the community, and attract new volunteers
- Engage businesses to develop and use guidelines for age-friendly workplaces, including flexible hours
The goal of interventions in this area is to assist older adults in accessing timely, reliable, relevant and understandable information about their community, ways of engagement, available services and health topics. This includes through word of mouth, general media or the use of information technology.
- Comprehensive information on health and social services for older adults via health care providers and social service non-profit organizations (e.g., Directory of Services)
- The monthly Senior’s Page in the local newspaper
- BC Seniors’ Week and other events
Areas for Improvement
- More intentional and inclusive network of older adults so no one gets left out (e.g., database of mailing addresses/email addresses)
- More information on rights of older people, financial advice and banking services tailored for older adults
- More timely information on community life and activities
- Health literacy supports, specifically targeted to migrant populations
- Web-based supports for older adults and their families/ caregivers for accessing services and supports
- Increase in technology-based social programs for older adults, including the development of technology skills
The goal of interventions in this focus area is to promote and provide older adults with a broad range of well located, easily accessible health and community services.
These include preventive, nutritional guidance and mental health services, affordable meals and help with everyday activities, home care arrangements and person-centred health services and residential care homes.
- Integrated primary care initiative by Interior Health and Divisions of Family Practice
- Care provider network
- Services to support access to assistive devices
- Home care services and food delivery
- Supports for finding a family physician
- Develop a local service provider forum to enhance collaboration between organizations, including community-based care providers, health care system, recreation services and other providers
- Develop a registry of services (non-profit and small businesses), with basic screening to ensure minimum quality standards
- Prioritize training and retaining staff in the social service and health care sector in the community economic plan
- Expand home care services and food delivery to meet growing demand
- Create a family physician registry
- Expansion of adult day program services to provide respite for informal care providers
- Explore co-location of social and health services for older adults (e.g., similar to the Foundry youth mental health model)
Areas for Improvement
- Increased provision and access mental health services oriented to older adults
- Improved support for family/informal care givers
- More long-term care staff across the continuum (from independent living to complex care)
Examples of Actions Taken So Far
The following items demonstrate actions that have arisen as a result of our process to become a more age-friendly community. We will continue to update this list.
About 50 students from KVR Middle School connected with a group of older adults at Charles Manor Seniors Community in November 2020 thanks to a spinoff pilot project created as a result of the City of Penticton’s age-friendly initiative.
The two Grade 6 classes started as pen pals while gaining perspective about what it means to be an older adult in our community. Later, they exchanged Christmas cards and the students created videos for the seniors (read more and watch a video on Global News).
Phone: 250-490-2512, Monday - Friday, 8:30 a.m to 4:30 p.m.