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Suggested Actions - Halton Hills

Members of the Halton Hills working group were asked to identify the three most important issues in their community and suggest actions to make their community more age-friendly. The following is a synopsis of their discussions as well as age-friendly initiatives posted on the Halton Hills map. The actions below may be initiated by any level of government, community group or individual.

Three Most Important Issues

1. Comprehensive, Integrated Regional Transportation

  • Create seamless, cross-border transportation regionally and locally. Explore operation costs, usage, etc. of other areas running transportation (e.g., Port Hope). The lack of north-south transit creates difficulty for people to move around for doctors’ appointments, meaningful jobs, etc. Individuals in Halton Hills could use transportation to get to jobs created in Milton. Regional and Local Council set the tone for the future through planning.
  • Provide transit in all new neighbourhoods o that users can start to use it when they first move to that location. The individual investment of owning and driving a car could be diverted to public transit.
  • Consider alternatives to current bus routes: from the shopping mall to hospital and back, like hotel shuttles from airports. Many people from Halton Hills go to the Brampton hospital every day for work and for treatment. Many transportation providers require more than a days notice so getting to appointments at hospitals and offices can affect one’s ability to get quick treatment. Also consider railway lines/rail bus/diesel rail cars from Georgetown to Milton, Burlington and Hamilton (not GO necessarily).
  • Users of service should be involved in route development.
  • Continue helping seniors who can still drive by providing classes to keep drivers updated and safe.. There is a course with the simulator to help seniors prepare for the testing. Taking the driving test is a big fear because losing ones licence is removing independence.
  • Use transportation to increase communication and cooperation across municipalities. A lack of transportation can foster local identity over regional identity. “To some extent it feels as though the north is a separate area.” Halton Hills shares information, events, etc. with Milton because it is closer but does not with Burlington and Oakville.

2. Affordable and Accessible Housing

  • Encourage developers to build affordable and accessible housing through local and regional policy changes – for example, require builders make a certain portion of builds accessible and affordable the way contributing to park lands is required. Build into the standards that affordable housing also needs to be accessible: wider doorways, etc.
  • Build more affordable and accessible housing. In Acton, people want apartment buildings with elevators. So many people move from Acton to Georgetown apartments. Affordable and accessible housing would benefit so many people – singles, single parents. This leadership needs to come from the public sector.
  • Bring forward the issue of low fixed pension income versus the ever escalating costs of living and the devaluation of the dollar into public attention. Look at affordability through the eyes of seniors - what is affordable? What is affordable for others may be out of reach for seniors on a pension. If 30% of income is the definition of affordability then seniors need housing that costs $400 or $500 a month for rent. Most places are not affordable for a single senior.
  • Encourage non-profit and community groups like Habitat for Humanity to build seniors buildings. Improve cooperation between private, non-profit groups and government to get projects completed. The St. Andrews Church housing provision is a good example and it is making a difference for seniors. “It’s planning, attitude, philosophy…council is open”.
  • Redefine supportive housing for seniors as a guided or graded transition that accommodates life’s changes with a continuum from independent living to nursing or personal support, and eventually long-term care. All levels of government – community groups, private enterprise, faith groups, etc. need to be involved (e.g., Kin Court model for downsizing). People who want to downsize do not want to move to another municipality. Many seniors can not afford to move directly into a seniors’ residence that includes food and services because they fear they will run out of money.

3. Assistance with Hospital Interactions /Home Care

  • Encourage seniors to have an advocate when they go to the hospital. An advocate can explain what the doctor is saying, help seniors remember what questions to ask, remember the doctors instructions or recommendations, get the senior food or drink and assist with using the washroom, etc. An advocate is especially important for seniors who are unable to advocate for themselves because lack of knowledge of system, poor health or the influence of medication etc.
  • Ensure hospitals have discharge policies are sensitive to the needs of seniors. Seniors have additional challenges when discharged at night: rides are more difficult to obtain, and dietary items or medication may need to be purchased.
  • Continue to provide programs that help seniors in their homes such as Home at Last Program, Community Unity support for yard care for seniors, Links2Care services, seniors’ community services, Meals on wheels etc.
  • Consider reducing hospital parking fees for seniors.
Please note that the following reflects further discussions of the working group members at the forum. Any section that is not included or is incomplete indicates that the group did not discuss it in the limited time available.
Community Involvement & Outdoor Spaces
  • Continue improving the ‘walk ability’ of Halton Hills. Local Council did a walkabout in both Acton and Georgetown and the newspaper took pictures of the challenges facing individuals in wheelchairs, etc. They did a good job fixing some of the problems.
  • Continue providing activities and space for seniors to be active and involved. The Senior Centres are vibrant with lots of opportunities to learn and socialize. The Senior Centres are becoming more effective at providing community services, information, and social activities. There are also active and community minded service clubs (Glen Williams & Rotary Club), churches and faith groups, that provide a lot of socializing opportunities for seniors such as the regular dinners.
  • Ministerial groups, Councillors, and community organizations should continue working cooperatively, making referrals between each other and working together to get many things done that benefit seniors and the community at large.