Burns Lake has been awarded an age-friendly B.C. recognition designation from the provincial government for its support of seniors to remain safe, active and independent.
The village is receiving this award partially for its community consultations. The consultations included a community walk-through, an open house and a survey. This process identified a number of priorities, including pedestrian infrastructure, such as sidewalks in high-traffic pedestrian areas.
“It is wonderful that the Village of Burns Lake has received age-friendly recognition in 2015,” said Krystin St. Jean, Economic Development Officer for the Village of Burns Lake. “Being recognized for this work is another way to put Burns Lake on the map as a desirable community for all ages.”
Since 2013, village staff has been working on the creation of the so-called age friendly action plan and the active 365 program that provides accessible seniors recreation programming and helps them stay active and healthy.
According to St. Jean, the village is also working on other projects that will help create a more age-friendly community. This includes the downtown revitalization project.
“The downtown revitalization project not only helps make the downtown more attractive, but provides important features that assist seniors and other residents such as increased number of benches, improved sidewalks and an overall welcoming environment that encourages seniors to walk and enjoy downtown.”
Another project that will also benefit seniors is the upgrade of Eighth Avenue.
“The upgrade of Eighth Avenue will include the addition of sidewalks which will help make the streets safer for all residents to walk along that corridor and have better access to some of the local health care services in our community,” said Jean.
“Beyond what the village has done, many other community groups and agencies in Burns Lake also work hard to make our community age-friendly,” she added.
According to St. Jean, initiatives in the age friendly action plan are not limited to seniors. Many of the initiatives provide benefits for residents who have disabilities and families with small children. “By supporting seniors, it helps make the community more inclusive and safe for everyone,” said St. Jean. Burns Lake is one of 11 B.C. communities being recognized and will receive a letter of congratulations, an age-friendly B.C. recognition award poster, along with $1000 to create a legacy project or a celebration. According to Jean, the village is considering using the $1000 to implement new seniors programming at the Lakeside Multiplex in 2016.
The age-friendly B.C. recognition program is a partnership between the B.C. healthy communities society and the ministry of health, and is part of the age-friendly B.C. strategy. To date, 36 B.C. communities have received age-friendly B.C. recognition. To achieve recognition, four key steps must be taken. These include establishing an age-friendly advisory or steering committee, passing a council or district board resolution, conducting an age-friendly assessment, and developing and publishing an action plan.