Seniors want more input into how a neighbourhood is designed so the city can better service this growing population’s needs, according to a newly released report.
The City of Red Deer, in partnership with the Alberta Motor Association and local senior service agencies, conducted a study in 2009 on mobility and transportation needs for seniors. The report is now online at www.reddeer.ca/socialplanning
The study shows a great proportion of seniors raised concern about their representation in land use and transportation infrastructure planning.
“What is critical to seniors is a more open process for participation in informal settings,” says the report.
The study showed neighbourhoods don’t always have sidewalks and some sidewalks seem narrow for wheelchairs.
One suggestion calls for providing senior-friendly principles to urban planners, transportation infrastructure engineers, service providers and real estate developers. Street crossings and intersections could also be enhanced, such as improving timing for lights and having audible crossings at all crosswalks with heavy traffic.
Overall, 24.5 per cent of seniors expressed having problems with transportation. Common problems included limited wheelchair or walker accessibility and increased medical issues posing problems to drive.
The report took about a year to complete and involved various public input.
A total of 314 seniors responded to a survey and three focus groups were conducted with 25 participants.
Changes are anticipated over several years.
“It will be a collective effort,” said Franklin Kutuadu, community researcher for the City of Red Deer.
Red Deer’s senior population is expected to grow to 14.5 per cent of the entire population by 2026. Currently, the city has about 9,000 individuals over 65 or 10 per cent of the population.
“We need to be more proactive before we get to a point where it will be much more difficult to deal with these issues,” Kutuadu said.
Positive changes have already been made since the report was finished, said community development supervisor Linda Healing.
Healing said there’s better disabled access at the 65th Street and Gaetz Avenue bus stop.
The city has also partnered with the Golden Circle to launch Driving Angels, a volunteer driver recognition program. The Golden Circle and the city are also working on a transportation information day for seniors.