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jan chamberlainVice Chair of the Council of Aging (COA) Grey Bruce Jan Chamberlain during the COA presentation to Saugeen Shores Council January 8.

Hub Staff

The Council on Aging (COA) wants to be a collective voice for aging residents of Grey and Bruce counties and hoped to continue development when members David Bradley and Jan Chamberlain presented to Saugeen Shores Council during the January 8 Committee of a Whole.

Since 2015 the COA has had Senior Advisory Committees operating in Grey Highlands and Southgate as well as workshops on the subject occurring in Brockton and North Bruce Peninsula with the hopes of starting a conversation and securing a representative in Saugeen Shores. The representative would act as a liaise and be a voice for residents of Saugeen Shores over the age of 65, 24.5 percent of the population according to the 2016 Census data.

Bradley, Treasurer for the COA, said the municipalities in Grey Bruce are starting to catch on as they realize seniors “have a huge potential to be helpful,” as they have ”talent and lived experience,” as well as a wealth of knowledge.

Maria Bertrand, Coordinator of the Adult Learning Centre, said that over the past five years more than 70 people over the age of 55 have used the Adult Learning Centre to sharpen their skills for themselves and employment.

“Courses usually focus on computer skills for personal use, and also for employment for the 55 and older. I have had people over 65 who are also looking for employment and needed to brush up on their computer skills. We have had few who wanted to finish and get their Grade 12 or GED (high school equivalency certificate),” said Bertrand in a January 19 e-mail.

During the presentation to Saugeen Shores Council, Bradley said the COA is also a way to let seniors know what’s available to them in Grey Bruce, citing library and museum activities.

Chamberlain, Vice Chair of the COA, said the group is supported by the World Health Organization and the first council to be put together in a rural area. She explained the eight pillars that are the focus of the Council of Aging: Outdoor Spaces and Public Buildings, Transportation, Housing, Social Participation, Respect and Social Inclusion, Civi Participation and Employment, Communication and Information and Community and Health Services.

Chamberlain stated that in most communities outside of Grey Bruce transportation is the most important issue, however in Grey Bruce many seniors have pre-arranged transportation through family members, friends, neighbours and Saugeen Mobility and Regional Transit; and cited affordable housing as the most pressing issue for seniors in the region. The Vice Chair later said that it is important to reach all aging community members and highlighted using the 2-1-1 helpline to stay informed.

During the question period in Council Chambers, Councillor Cheryl Grace admitted that it is a good opportunity for Saugeen Shores and that Saugeen Shores should “take advantage of the fact that [the COA] is willing to reach out and volunteer and spend a lot of time helping [Saugeen Shores] out.”

Councillor Mike Myatt hoped that this would “catch hold” and that Saugeen Shores can be an age friendly community. Myatt then asked Mayor Mike Smith if Council could send the responsibly to the Town’s Community Services department to see how this could unfold.

Mayor Mike Smith said that Saugeen Shores is fortunate to have the Services Clubs that service the older population in Saugeen Shores, mentioning Chantry Seniors Centre and P.A.R.C. 55+. “They do provide a lot to our communities,” said the mayor before referring to Community Services to come back at a later date with suggestions.

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