Discussing Renfrew County's aging population
Sean Chase/Daily Observer Calvin United Church is considering converting their hall into a seniors residence. The church led another discussion focusing on the needs of the region's aging population last week.
Although the Calvin Infrastructure Task Force is still developing options for a seniors affordable housing project, the church remains committed to leading the discussion about how to support Renfrew County's aging population.
Calvin United Church hosted a second community engagement luncheon last week where they invited not-for-profit housing organizations, social service agencies and service clubs to examine issues surrounding how best to help our region's seniors, especially when it comes to housing. Reverend Tiina Cote said this session wasn't so much about the development of a seniors housing facility in the downtown core but as a result of discussions from their initial meeting last October.
“It was evident there was a need for more conversation,” said Cote adding it led to more collaboration with the Renfrew County United Way on the issue. “There's energy and some absolutely wonderful ideas.”
The Calvin Infrastructure Task Force was formed to look into the feasibility of a major seniors affordable housing project that could see them convert their hall into an apartment complex. The decision to give up the hall came after two years of discussions within the congregation in which the parish explored how it could take tangible action to help the community at large.
The hall is currently used by the congregation as well as many community groups, such as Streetlight Theatre Company and the Demers Ottawa Valley Taekwon-Do school. However, this session did not touch on the project which is still being developed behind-the-scenes, said task force chairwoman Stacey Mortson.
“We are about intentional community,” said Mortson. “Looking after our seniors and housing will hopefully become part of that larger strategy.”
The United Way is currently working on a draft report that analyzes the state of vulnerable seniors in the region and makes recommendations to address this emerging issue. According to the agency's research using Statistics Canada figures, there are 8,465 people in the county who are age 80 and older, accounting for 8.2 per cent of the population. That is more than double the provincial average. Those age 65 and older make up another 21 per cent of the population. That's an increase of 32 per cent from 2011. Sixty per cent, or 2,700 seniors, survive on low income wages. Today, provincially there are more people 65 and older than age 15 and under. United Way regional director Pat Lafreniere said she appreciates these sessions as a starting point for addressing the issue.
“This is bringing the community together to prepare for the future needs of seniors in Renfrew County,” she said.