• daniellevaliquette

Qs FROM CONSTITUENTS: IMPLEMENTING THE GREY COUNTY AGE-FRIENDLY COMMUNITY ACTION PLAN

Updated: Sep 28

This blog series explores some of the questions I have been asked by Grey Highlands' constituents. This post looks at the recommendations and implementation of the Grey County Age-Friendly Community Action Plan.

Thank you to the resident who reached out to ask about the Grey County Age-Friendly Community Action Plan. This document is fairly long, and has many, many external links; however, it is a wealth of resources. I enjoted re-visiting it.


Speaking of long.


This blog is a bit of a beast. I have tried to highlight the main points.


Question 1

If you are elected to Grey Highlands Municipal Council, will you consistently and actively advocate for the implementation, in Grey Highlands and Grey County, of the recommendations of the Grey County Age-Friendly Community Action Plan?


Grey Highlands Municipal Council endorsed the Grey County Age-Friendly Community Action Plan on the summer of 2022.


The overall goal of this plan is to:


"create inclusive opportunities for people of all ages to actively participate in all stages of life, and to thrive physically and economically, with dignity and independence."

It establishes ten priorities. (Each goals links to how I will implement that goal within Grey Highlands.)


1 Expand mobility options to provide access to key services and destinations for people of all abilities and in all stages of life.

2 Promote the creation of affordable, attainable, and accessible housing, along with a range of housing types and tenures.

3 Provide a variety of communication options including opportunities for in-person interactions, beyond the pandemic.

4 Provide an appropriate level of health care support for populations as their needs change.

5 Leverage existing assets to offer opportunities for a variety of employment and volunteer placements, activities, and events that enhance social participation by all ages.

6 Expand access to internet connectivity and capacity for people to make use of internet connectivity.

7 Include residents of all ages, abilities and cultural backgrounds in County initiatives and events.

8 Enhance cultural awareness and address root causes of systemic racism and discrimination in Grey County.

9 Utilize existing community resources and supports by fostering partnerships and relationships with existing community organizations and groups.

10 Develop Complete Communities that maintain a small-town rural feel, while still providing amenities and services where everyone’s daily needs can be met.


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Below I look at implementing each of these priorities at Grey Highlands.


1 Expand mobility options to provide access to key services and destinations for people of all abilities and in all stages of life.


Moving people around Grey Highlands and other rural communities is complex.


As your mayor, I will continue to support the Grey Transit Route. This has been a successful project that I would love to see expand.


But, transportation is more than just motorized vehicles. I am a vocal advocate for active transportation for all ages; however, many of our communities do not contain some of the basic infrastructure needed to keep people of all ages active and safe.


There are two reports coming to Council that will help determine next steps. These reports are:

  • Transportation Master Plan: This will determine GH's sidewalk inventory. and perhaps more importantly, the investment needed to increase and maintain more sidewalks.

  • Safety Plan: This will include safety options for across GH like traffic calming solutions.

One program from the Grey County Age-Friendly Community Action Plan that could be implemented with ease is an Adopt a Bench Program. I really like Owen Sound's Commemorative Bench Program


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2 Promote the creation of affordable, attainable, and accessible housing, along with a range of housing types and tenures.


I am proud of the policies this Council has put in place to support affordable, attainable, and accessible. And, hopefully these policies will lead to diverse housing types throughout Grey Highlands, but especially within the serviced areas.


See me blog Smart Growth where I discuss the policies Grey Highlands has implemented.


Accessibility

We have a variety of people living in our communities: low income, students, young families, newcomers, empty nesters, and seniors, and our communities should be accessible to all of them. Not only should we be encouraging homes, businesses, and commercial spaces to be built with accessibility in mind, but I would also like to see Grey Highlands share the local success stories.


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3 Provide a variety of communication options including opportunities for in-person interactions, beyond the pandemic.


I believe that Grey Highlands can reach more people if they use several types of communication methods, but we also must be cognizant of the staff time required for running hybrid meetings because it takes two staff members (often outside of the 9 to 5 business day). Perhaps, a compromise can be reached by alternating between in-person and online meetings.


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4 Provide an appropriate level of health care support for populations as their needs change.

Related Community Dimension(s)


I will continue to support health care in Grey Highlands, including supporting South East Grey Community Health Centre, the expansion of Grey Gables, doctor attraction and retention initiatives. Additionally, I support the expansion of Beaver Crest to fulfill the needs of our growing community.


A program from the Grey County Age-Friendly Community Action Plan that could be implemented with ease is to distribute and promote the Building Dementia Friendly Communities e-course. A course designed to foster dementia-friendly awareness.


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5 Leverage existing assets to offer opportunities for a variety of employment and volunteer placements, activities, and events that enhance social participation by all ages.


This Spring the municipality hired a Communications Manager. I am hoping this means an increase in communicating non-municipal events and activities. The Events Calendar is under used, currently.


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6 Expand access to internet connectivity and capacity for people to make use of internet connectivity.


I will continue to support any program or policy to expand Internet connectivity and capacity within Grey Highlands.



7 Include residents of all ages, abilities and cultural backgrounds in County initiatives and events.

The plan suggests Human Resources conduct "a review of job postings, application process, and public committee policies to ensure they are accessible and commit to age-friendly and equity principals."


I also think we can make Council Chamber a more welcoming space for anyone. Yes, Council Chambers is a place of business, but it can be intimidating to many. And, no wonder! It is a different language, you are on "camera", it is being taped, you have to speak into a microphone, and so on.


We can make Council more friendly and accessible by using inclusive language. Refer to my blog on language.


Additionally, if meetings were chaired more efficiently there would be more time for you to speak at Open Forum.


As your mayor and representative at the County table, I will support and encourage Inter-generational Programming


8 Enhance cultural awareness and address root causes of systemic racism and discrimination in Grey County.


As the mayor, I will support changing Grey Highlands Procedural By Law in include a Land Acknowledgement. I feel this is long over due.


I will strive to always use inclusive language. But, remembering I'm learning, too!)


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9 Utilize existing community resources and supports by fostering partnerships and relationships with existing community organizations and groups.


In the plan's Acknowledgements, it thanks South East Grey as one of the stakeholder representatives who played an integral role in the development of the plan. South East Grey is an obvious partner for Grey Highlands, but so are the libraries, the community halls, member organizations like The Chamber of Commerce, Kinsmen, Rotary and Rotorac, as well as the private sector.


The Grey Highlands Community Improvement Plan (CIP) includes support for retrofitting of businesses to provide accessibility features. I believe the CIP funding needs to continue and will support it.


Over the last four years, I have seen the Community Development Action Committee (CDAC) mature from a group of individuals reporting to one another about their activities to a group of people who share with and build upon one another. I think CDAC can be the seed for new events and opportunities. One example that blossomed (see what I did there) from CDAC is the Community Garden Program with two very different gardens.


Once the County hires an Age Friendly Planner (AFP), Grey Highlands staff can leverage this resource.


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10 Develop Complete Communities that maintain a small-town rural feel, while still providing amenities and services where everyone’s daily needs can be met.


I think this "priority" might be the issue I have been thinking the most about over the last few days if not weeks. We know that growth is coming, how do we manage it so that we retain what makes us, us.


The reality of the current infrastructure (meaning largely water and sewage) is that because Markdale is the only area with all the amenities it makes sense to support services within Markdale. And,; therefore, this is where the gentle infilling should occur. I see a vibrant community with an assortment of housing types, thriving local business, and safe streets where all ages are encourage to walk--even in the winter!


This doesn't mean leadership forgets about the rest of Grey Highlands. In the areas outside of Markdale, we must protect agricultural land and support the needs of farmers.


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Question 2

Will you take a lead in helping to organize a process of engaging and mobilizing seniors in Grey Highlands in support of the development of an age-friendly Grey Highlands (including municipal services and other services in Grey Highlands)? Without a mobilized seniors’ community, decision-makers and plan implementers at all levels will not have the critical mass of seniors’ support that is necessary to embed purposeful positive change in our community.


I completely agree, without "buy-in" from local seniors there will be no "embedded purposeful change in our community".


As your mayor, I will support and encourage a strong Senior's Committee. In my opinion, this committee has been on one of the most successful committees of Council this term. (Hey, it brought the Plan to Council!) In addition, I support committee meetings being hosted in the manner determined by the committee.


DID YOU KNOW? Grey Highlands is looking for members for next term, now!

I would also support paid advertisements on social media to "boost" who sees them. Social media ads are largely inexpensive, and can be used in addition to amplify the current print media communications, for example, What's Happening. This would benefit everyone, not just seniors.


Though not technically mobilizing seniors, the next term of Council will create a new Strategic Plan to govern the next four years. As your mayor, I will support and encourage a plan that includes Age-Friendly principals.


Check out the Grey Highlands Voter's Guide for more details.

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DISCLAIMER The staff at The Municipality of Grey Highlands are experts in their respective fields. If something here is different than staff's advice, always follow staff's direction. And, then please email me at danivaliquette@gmail.com with what I got wrong. 

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