By Emily Stonehouse
It’s no secret that Haliburton County has a rapidly growing demographic of seniors. Jack Brezina wrote in his column “Jack’s POV” two weeks ago that it has the highest percentage of those over 60 in all of Ontario. It currently stands at 32 percent while the provincial average according to recent Stats Canada numbers is 19 percent, and it’s predicted that by 2046, the number will rise to 40 percent.
It’s a growing issue, and one that needs to be addressed. That’s why Aging Together as Community (ATC) was formed in the area. The group aims to provide networking and brainstorming opportunities to everyone interested in learning more. There is a particular interest in aging in the home, and the overall status of housing in the area as the population continues to age.
So far, the group has met twice to discuss. The first meeting on Jan. 28 was a preliminary session to brainstorm visions for how the organization works within the community. The session was well-attended – both virtually and in-person – and garnered the need for a follow-up, which was held March 4 at the West Guilford Community Centre.
The meeting started with the exciting announcement that ATC had received a grant of $22,500 from the New Horizons Seniors Grant. “This money will enable us to turn a new page, and start a new chapter,” shared Bonnie Roe, an organizer with ATC.
The primary focus of the grant is for advertising and marketing the ATC cause in an overarching way. “It’s really about broadening our audience and coming up with a website platform,” said David Buwalda, another ATC organizer, “Every part of marketing we do will have a community based approach, and this grant is setting a foundation of what can be done.” The grant will be eligible for a full year, running March 2023 to March 2024.
On top of receiving the grant from New Horizons, the March 4 ATC meeting also formalized some tangible next steps for the working group, including the creation of a formalized lobby group, partnering with local media organizations, exploring alternative housing options and opportunities, and developing clear messaging for what the ATC group is all about.
Roe also noted that a major goal is to partner with other organizations who put seniors on the forefront of their priorities. “There’s nothing worse than people operating in silos,” she said. She believes that there are plenty of opportunities for collaboration and community development through these initiatives.
The next ATC will be April 15, 1:30 to 4 P.M. Organizers are confirming the location, and all details will be on the Aging Together as Community Facebook page.