by Bruce Gilmour, DRA President
As a very visible presence on Dunbar Street, with my white cane and beautiful companion dog Falina, I get stopped a lot by people who know I’m president of the Dunbar Residents’ Association. Very often, the ensuing conversations are about seniors’ issues – no surprise, since the latest census shows that in our area, more than 20 percent of the population is 65 or older.
For example, in the Stong’s checkout line, someone who identifies me with the DRA says: “Do you want to know what you are missing? There is no dialogue about seniors’ housing and supports.” Outside, a 72-year-old woman stops me on the street to say the removal of her nearby bus stop may force her to leave Dunbar. “The demands on my strength do not allow me to shop and safely return home with what is now a four – when it was a two-block – walk to my closest stop,” she says.
Then, at a recent library session on the resiliency of the elderly in climate extremes, questions arise about the lack of local services for seniors and why they must travel to the Kerrisdale Seniors' Centre to access them.
One hopeful sign is that the new city council is planning to create a dedicated full-time planning position focusing on seniors. Here’s what I think that planner could do to help:
• Open a conversation with seniors about making Dunbar a “complete community” – as envisaged in the Vancouver Plan – that works for them, as well as for other residents.
• Explore how the city can ensure that street-level retail aligns with the needs of local residents.
• Ensure that transit serves the needs of seniors, including the provision of enough easily walkable bus stops.
• Look at the recreational and cultural opportunities in Dunbar. Do civic amenities like libraries and community centres offer what seniors want and need?
• Ensure streets and sidewalks are designed to serve pedestrians of all ages and abilities. Adequate benches and controlled crosswalks encourage walking and help residents stay healthy and connected.
• Ensure that seniors have ways of staying engaged and informed at the neighbourhood level, whether through websites, social media or printed communications.
The DRA wants your ideas and feedback about how seniors can age well in Dunbar. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.