The Task Force continues to forge ahead at an impressive pace in establishing Tumbler Ridge as a town that is inclusive and supportive of people of all ages and abilities. Following the completion of the Strategic Plan, the group has moved into the next phase ? implementation ? with much already accomplished.
The need to improve communication was one of the earliest concerns identified and it was reported in late January or early February that grant monies had been received that would fund a communication centre where seniors could access information on subjects that range from how to access transportation to medical appointments in distant communities and how to access government services as needed, to when the next floor curling session will be. It will also provide a place where, while acquiring whatever information is desired, the individual can sit, enjoy a cup of coffee, and play some cards with friends. It will be in partnership with the Youth Centre, with the seniors using it during the day and the youth in the evening ? a great partnership that will be of benefit to both groups.
Those ?hosting? the information/drop-in centre will be trained in basic computer skills by Northern Lights College (already set up – just waiting for the personnel to be identified) in order that they will be able to research information, keep databases of services and activities, and to work on developing a directory of services and supports that exist within the community that will be made available to all seniors and those with special needs. We have only been waiting for renovations to be completed in the centre that will provide a suitable venue for this service. They will be completed within the next couple of weeks, and the service will be opening shortly after.
In addition, members of the Task Force and myself have met with Northern Health management on a number of occasions and this has already produced an increase in medical services, and the Comparative Study that was developed is being considered at the highest levels within Northern Health in order to develop a plan to ensure that Tumbler Ridge is being properly served.
A third physician is starting at the clinic on Mar. 16th, and the plan to have dental services in town is moving ahead fairly rapidly.
Public Works has already modified procedures to address issues of concern for seniors/disabled pedestrian travel by improving and increasing handicapped parking, repairing streets at crosswalks, and improving the snow plowing procedures.
The Chamber of Commerce has been addressed before, and will be again now that they have a new board, to encourage businesses to improve accessibility to their places of business (i.e. level entry, wider aisles, automatic doors) and to bring in services and products that are required by older and/or disabled citizens. Some of these businessmen have already been recognized in this newspaper for their efforts. Local tradespeople will also be canvassed to see who would be willing to provide their skills at minimal rates (or free) to seniors who need retrofitting of their houses to make them more accessible.
The Mayor and Council have been actively investigating the idea of accessible, low-cost housing that could form the basis of a ?Seniors Village? complete with a purpose-built Seniors Centre.
Since the approval of the Strategic Plan by the new Town Council, the Task Force has been meeting weekly to go through the Action Plan item by item to determine who will be responsible for making each item happen, and what is a reasonable timeline to make it happen. The Strategic Plan, with its 50+ recommendations, is available to anyone from Town Hall.
The steps outlined above form only part of the work accomplished by the hard-working Task Force and has been reported regularly at open meetings as well as in this paper. More information on the work of the group is available from Town Hall.