A granddaughter and her grandmother led a Jane’s Walk around the southeastern corner of the city on Saturday to open up the dialogue on adapting the urban landscape to aging boomers.
As a municipal planning intern with the Town of Olds, Kari Idland, 26, has a background in planning, and her grandmother Maureen Durrant, 70, an LPN at private care facility Harmony Care Homes in Inglewood, knows about community care.
“We need to know what’s going to happen to the boomers.
“The senior population is going to be growing quicker. We need to address it before it gets out of hand,” said Durrant, of Red Deer.
She said while the seniors living in the long-term care facility where she works don’t walk much around the neighbourhood, but they appreciate being able to see families and children playing in nearby green space.
Idland said creating inviting spaces in neighbourhoods promotes a sense of community.
The pair took 10 people on their Jane’s Walk — Where will all the boomers Go? — along a greenspace path on 22nd Street to Inglewood Drive and a new school site with more greenspace where generations could integrate. Then it was onto Ironstone Drive towards a senior-friendly apartment building, then back down high-traffic 30th Avenue.
“This is a potentially good community. At least if you do lose the ability to drive, you can walk and go meet your friends for coffee at the Tim’s. You can go get groceries. You can still have some independence,” said Idland about the neighbourhoods that connect to the commercial hub at the corner of 22nd Street and 30th Avenue where the walk began.
“When you make an area more accessible, more inviting to seniors, you really enhance the quality of that space for everybody,” Idland said.
She said Clearview Ridge is another example of a comprehensive community. But the problem is that many older people don’t want to move out of their homes into new neighbourhoods. So younger generations will more likely benefit by moving into those communities where they can age in place.
She said a report out of the United States showed over 80 per cent of boomers want to age in their homes. That means many will end up “out in the middle of the burbs,”
She said in small towns, older homes and their residents are closer to the downtown and its services. But when redevelopment of public facilities start, for example recreation and libraries, they can end up on the outskirts of the community which require people to have transportation.
Public meeting places are important as people age and become less physically active, but can still attend cultural events, Idland said.
It’s the fourth year Red Deer has held Jane’s Walks. Six walks were planned and the both walks held on Saturday were well attended.
“They have been doing exactly what Jane Jacobs intended, which is get people out in their neighbourhoods, learning more about the places where they live, work and play and getting to know other people in the community,” said Lauren Maris, environmental program specialist with the City of Red Deer.
Jane’s Walks are now held in several countries which is incredible considering the walks only started in 2007, she said.
“It’s been quite explosive.”