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The Blue Mountains council urges collaboration with the county on age-friendly policies

Councillor Rob Sampson said housing is key, because, without options, seniors cannot age in place
2020_04_21 TBM Town Hall Sign_JG

Members of The Blue Mountains council urged a delegation from Grey County to continue working with town officials to achieve an age-friendly community.

Grey County Manager of Planning Services Scott Taylor and Intermediate Planner/Forestry Trails Coordinator Stephanie Lacey-Avon, attended the regular meeting of The Blue Mountains council on Monday, April 25 to present the county’s Age-Friendly Community Strategy and Action Plan.

Lacey-Avon presented the report to council and outlined the work done on the strategy beginning in July 2021. The county has completed several background reports (which are all available at and engaged in public consultations on the plan.

“We’re really proud with the efforts we were able to achieve, despite the limitations the pandemic had imposed on us,” said Avon-Lacey. “Through this project, we wanted to make sure we were not only considering how to best achieve age-friendly community results for this demographic of Grey as it is today, but also to think about how we can enhance this area to be an attractive place for youth, young families, immigrants and others to relocate and stay.”

Demographic information identified in the report included:

  • As of 2021, Grey County’s median age is 49.3, whereas province-wide it is 40.7.
  • 24% of Grey’s population is 65 years and over, compared to 14.8% aged 0-14 years.
  • In The Blue Mountains, 34.9% of the municipal population is 65 years or over, compared to only 9.6% aged 0-14 years.

Findings of the AFC survey included:

  • One in three survey respondents identified a physical condition or mental health condition or health problem reducing the amount or kind of activity they can do.
  • Roughly one in two indicated only ‘sometimes’ there are enough benches and rest spots along streets, parks, and buildings.
  • Over one in two indicated that people only ‘sometimes’ understand how to share the road with other road users (pedestrians, cyclists, farm equipment, etc.).

The survey also indicated the following needs/wants from respondents:

  • A need for a full range of housing choices,
  • Culturally sensitive and welcoming activities and attractions,
  • Understanding the needs of all ages (youth, working age, older adults, etc.),
  • Access to public computers and internet,
  • Improved access to family physicians.

Councillor Andrea Matrosovs said the demographic information in the report was not surprising and said collaboration in the future between the county and the town would be key.

“Moving forward, as one of the next steps, we would mutually want to keep talking to one another because so much of our sustainability must absolutely balance on the three pillars of environment, economics and social and cultural,” said Matrosovs. “Our action steps are looking very similar to your action steps.”

Avon-Lacey said, moving forward, the county plans to form a working group in order to share and collaborate on projects and actions.

Councillor Rob Sampson suggested the availability of housing options for those who want to live locally is critically important.

“It would be wise to elevate that as a key, immediate priority to try to make sure we have the plan, the tools, the resources and energy and effort directed towards that ASAP as opposed to some time down the road. Without a full range of housing options, it’s not practical for people to age in place,” said Sampson.

Mayor Alar Soever raised a number of issues with the county delegation including: access to broadband internet services, long-term care and healthcare services.

“How are we going to look at the county that is so different in its different parts,” the Mayor asked. “How are we addressing cross-border issues. Many of our seniors access services outside Grey County.”

Taylor said the county is anxious to work in partnership to implement actions identified in the plan.

“We’re going to need to reflect back on what this research has shown us both in terms of the Age-Friendly Community Action Plan, as well as the Growth Management Study,” said Taylor. “In some cases, we may need to work with individual municipalities on certain opportunities and challenges and in other cases we may be working with all nine municipalities.”

After the presentation and question and answer session, council voted 5-0 to receive the report as information.

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About the Author: Chris Fell, Local Journalism Initiative reporter

Chris Fell covers The Blue Mountains and Grey Highlands under the Local Journalism Initiative, which is funded by the Government of Canada
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