Residents study the action plan for an age-friendly community in Harrison Hot Springs at the open house held Wednesday

Planning for an age-friendly future in Harrison Hot Springs

Village plan includes ideas to help make community a better place for seniors to live

Approximately 20 residents attended an open house last week to share their thoughts and review the age-friendly plan drafted for Harrison Hot Springs.

The plan was created to gather ideas on how to make Harrison a place that’s accessible and livable for senior citizens. It was crafted through a series of consultations, workshops,  a walkabout with residents and utilizing World Health Organization criteria as to what makes a community a good place to live as its citizens age.

The draft plan, which now will go to the Village Council for approval, includes suggestions in four key areas of transportation and built environment, social and civic participation, employment and volunteerism and housing and health. There were dozens of ideas in the plan, such as sidewalk and curb improvements, development of trail guidelines, creating online and community public bulletin boards, creating a senior-friendly business decal program, organizing senior’s fairs, implementing an E-health program and nursing outreach services , amongst many others.

Community members shared feedback that in general, the age friendly plan looks good. They are curious where the money will come from for these projects and which ones may or may not be tackled. The Village was also sent a letter, signed by at least nine residents, that stated they “heartily endorse” the initiative and anticipate the discussions of implementation and actions.

Cherie Enns, the consultant hired for drafting the age-friendly plan, was on hand at the open house to answer questions. She heard feedback from the approximately 20 residents who came out.

“People are happy enough with the plan,” Enns says.

While it’s up to the Council as to what to do with the plan, Enns says if they proceed with trying to achieve an official Age-friendly status, it would open up some funding opportunities for the village.

“The designation gives you, at the very least, access to some seed funding,” says Enns.

Lisa Grant, manager of development and community services, was also at the open house to listen to feedback. She says the next step is to bring the plan back to Council. There may be changes based on resident feedback. Then, after formal adoption, Council can decide on a plan of action.

Grant is happy with the draft plan, saying it’s really what they were looking for when they started this process early last year.

“This is so unique to us,” says Grant.

Having elements to creating the plan such as doing a walkabout and extensive local consultation led to a report that is unlike any other community’s and gives the Village “tangible” suggestions for positive change.

Coun. John Hansen attended the open house. He said the plan looks good and now it’s a question of budgets.

“It’s just a question of which have the costs and what we can afford,” says Hansen.

He says they will have to look at “creative ways” to finance projects that were suggested in the plan.

Hansen says in looking at an age-friendly Harrison, he would like to see something similar to the retirement home in Agassiz built in Harrison.

“If we had something equivalent to that here, it would be incredible.”

Coun. John Buckley also attended.

“We’re on the right track,” says Buckley. He hopes they as a Council will be able to tackle as many of the suggestions made as possible.