Helping seniors age in place for longer

York Region is fulfilling its promise to balance the needs of seniors with all residents through new housing eligibility models that promise to help low-income residents access affordable housing options and a low-income transit pass.

That’s among several measures completed or initiated in the first year of the York Region Seniors Strategy, the Region reported at the April 18 Regional Council meeting. Created to support the health and well-being of the Region’s aging population, the strategy was approved in 2016. Over the next 20 years, the number of seniors living in York is projected to grow from 162,780 to more than 310,000.

The Region has invested in programs and services to help seniors stay in place as they age. It took part in the Central Local Health Integration Network (CLHIN) collaborative tables that help align regional priorities for seniors with the CLHIN service priorities. The Region’s Community Paramedicine Team partnered with Markham Stouffville Hospital’s Hospital to Home program that works to keep seniors out of the hospital by bringing services directly into their homes.

Regional and municipal staff held a workshop to explore collaborative efforts to support a senior-friendly community. The Region and the City of Markham are working together to support the development of the Unionville Seniors Hub. The proposed eight- and 12-storey HYI building will include approximately 260 apartments for seniors, a public community centre and a seniors’ hub offering seniors-focused services to the community. The Region is also connecting seniors and caregivers to the right programs and services at the right times by ensuring they know what supports and services are available to them and who to ask for help when needed.

Other highlights of the Regional Council meeting:

Enhancing green spaces. The Region surpassed targets to preserve and enhance green spaces last year. Achievements included in the 2017 Greening Strategy report include planting more than 85,000 trees, exceeding its target of 70,000 trees and shrubs. The Region has a canopy cover of 31 per cent and says every tree planted moves it closer to achieving its goal of 35 per cent canopy cover by 2031.

The Region achieved Petal Certification with six of seven Living Building Challenge petals for the Bill Fisch Forest and Stewardship Education Centre. Located in the Hollidge Tract in the Town of Whitchurch-Stouffville, the centre is used for forest education programs. The challenge is a green building certification program and sustainable design framework that visualizes the ideal for the built environment and is organized into seven performance areas called ‘petals.’ The Region also collaborated with the Evergreen Foundation and York Region school boards on greening pilot projects and designing outdoor learning spaces.

Preparing for impacts of technology on transportation. Regional Council approved a multi-year partnership with the University of Toronto’s iCity Centre for Automated and Transformative Transportation Systems (iCity-CATTS) to help prepare the Region for the impacts of technology on transportation.

iCity-CATTS is the first research centre of its kind in North America and will study how ‘smart’ transportation technologies, such as automated vehicles and e-sharing, will affect people’s transportation choices, how businesses provide transportation as a service, and how cities should plan for those changes to achieve the best results for society. The partnership also supports the work the Region has already initiated to prepare for changes in transportation technology.

Speed limits reduced on some roads. Council approved lowering speed limits on several regional roads, including portions of Woodbine Avenue, Mount Albert Road, Green Landing Road and Holland Landing Road. The Region monitors and regularly reviews speed limits to balance traffic flow with safety, it noted.

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