Age-friendly cities foster physical health and mental well-being of people as they age in their community. An Age-Friendly city enhances quality of life by addressing dimensions in the physical and social environment that support active aging. Age-Friendly cities are accessible, equitable, inclusive, safe and secure, and supportive. Because optimal aging is a lifelong process, an Age Friendly city in fact benefits people of all ages. The World Health Organization (WHO) has provided international leadership in identifying the characteristics of Age-Friendly Cities. They have done this by creating a framework and guides for communities that aspire to become Age-Friendly.
Active aging is a term created by the World Health Organization, which refers to the process of optimizing opportunities for health, participation and security, in order to enhance quality of life for people as they age.
Early in the development of the Age-Friendly movement, the Hamilton Council on Aging (HCoA) recognized the value of Age Friendly, and became a champion for Hamilton becoming an Age Friendly city. HCoA prepared two inaugural reports: Hamilton: A City for ALL Ages (2010), and Hamilton: A City for ALL Ages. Three Years On (2013).
In 2012, Hamilton City Council endorsed the development of an Age Friendly plan as a strategic priority for Hamilton. With this commitment, HCoA went on to partner with the City of Hamilton, and the City’s Senior Advisory Committee to develop Hamilton’s Plan for an Age-Friendly City. Aligned with the WHO framework, our goals address: Housing, Getting Around Hamilton, Communication & Information, Health & Community Services, Social Participation, Civic Engagement and Age Friendly Public Service. The Hamilton Council on Aging, together with our two partners, are co-leading the implementation of Hamilton’s Plan.
Today, the WHO coordinates a global network of over 300 cities that have embraced the Age Friendly framework and are taking steps to become Age Friendly. In 2014, Hamilton applied and was accepted as a member of the WHO Global Network for Age Friendly Cities and Communities, in recognition of our efforts to becoming Age Friendly.
In 2016, the City of Hamilton updated its strategic vision, “To be the best place to raise a child and age successfully.”
Hamilton’s Plan for an Age-Friendly City (HPAFC) was developed through a process that included research, consultations and validation. Over 700 older adults, municipal staff and community stakeholders contributed to its development.
Planing for an Age-Friendly Hamilton: What We Heard provides a summary of what we learned during the consultation phase.
Hamilton’s Plan for an Age-Friendly City (HPAFC) includes a vision and principles to inform policies, influence infrastructure and enhance services in Hamilton. Our Plan has 7 goals, 25 objectives and recommends 100+ actions, based on the consultations which identified gaps and challenges, as well as what is working well in our city. Actions in the plan are categorized according to short, medium and long-term timelines for implementation. Hamilton’s Plan for an Age Friendly City is considered a “living” document and can be refreshed, as necessary.
HPAFC aligns with other good work currently underway in Hamilton, including the Pedestrian Mobility Plan, the Housing and Homelessness Action Plan, and the Master Transportation Plan. It also aligns with provincial legislation, such as the accessibility standards which have been developed under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).
Since City Council’s endorsement of Hamilton’s Plan for an Age-Friendly City in 2014, the City of Hamilton, the Hamilton Council on Aging, and the Seniors Advisory Committee have been partnering through a Collaborative Governance Committee to steward the Plan’s implementation. Implementation is also informed by our Community Engagement Advisory Committee, composed of community-based organizations, as well as staff from the City working in the community. This Committee increases awareness of the Plan, and serve as champions within their networks to connect people with opportunities to support Hamilton becoming an Age-Friendly city.
We are a City with a commitment to becoming Age Friendly – and advancing this goal is a shared responsibility. It requires planning and action by all levels of government, non-profit organizations, the private sector, and the broader community. In 2016, we developed the wordmark “Age Friendly Hamilton”, to recognize broad-based efforts are occurring both within and beyond the official Plan, which collectively contribute to Hamilton becoming an Age Friendly city.
Housing choice is affordable, available, and safe
The Housing Options for Older Adults in Hamilton provides information on a wide variety of housing options for older adults, including both rental and ownership options. It includes a useful checklist to consider your needs and preferences, when deciding your future housing. Tax credits you may be entitled to are also referred to. Contact information for many housing resources in Hamilton are provided. The guide is available both online and in print. It was produced by Hamilton’s Seniors Advisory Committee.
Transit options enable seniors to get around Greater Hamilton
The Hamilton Street Railway provides senior annual passes for an annual fee for those 65 to 79 years of age, and a golden age pass for free bus transportation for seniors over the age of 80.
Let’s Take the Bus workshops to assist older adults to take the bus were provided by the Hamilton Council on Aging, in association with the Hamilton Street Railway in 2015. Brochures were created and provided in 7 languages – English, French, Urdu, Arabic, Punjabi, Simplified Chinese and Portuguese.
Outdoor Spaces and Public Places
Outdoor spaces and public places are accessible, safe, and inviting
Let’s Take a Walk: An Age-Friendly Guide to 18 of Hamilton’s Outdoor Recreational Trails is a guide provides information about Hamilton area trails, including maps, pictures, walkability, and points of interest. Information on how to access the trails using public transit (HSR) is provided. The guide can be downloaded online or purchased through the Hamilton Council on Aging, who produced the guide, with community partners.
Neighbourhood Walkability. How to assess your neighbourhood for walkability and information on City progress in creating a more walkable City. Please see Age Friendly Tools & Resources.
Communication and Information
Communication and information is easy to access and understand
Dundas InfoSpot 55+ are easy to use, touch-screen kiosks, that provide information on programs, services and community activities of interest to older adults residing in or near to Dundas. The kiosks are located at the Dundas Public Library and the Dundas Rotary Cattel Seniors Centre (Lions Memorial Community Centre). You can also access the same information online.
Peer Connector Program (see Civic Engagement)
The City of Hamilton has created a website landing page which provides a central source of information on services and supports for older adults which are provided by the City.
Age-Friendly Communication & Information Checklist. A tool to guide you in making your written communications Age-Friendly. Please see Age Friendly Tools & Resources.
Health and Community Services
Health and community services support aging-in-place
Hamilton’s Senior’s Social Isolation Project has received 3 year funding to reduce social isolation in our City. Seven community organizations are leading seven projects, with the Hamilton Council on Aging serving as the “backbone organization” to coordinate efforts to foster collective impact. Core activities involve identifying and connecting isolated seniors with local services and activities. Two neighborhoods considered high risk for senior’s social isolation are the initial focus, with the intention to expand efforts city-wide over time.
Meaningful volunteer and employment opportunities
Older Adult Peer Connector Program is a 2 year project to train older adult volunteers to provide information about community resources, support programs and services to seniors. Currently, there are peer connector volunteers trained and placed in 10 locations throughout Greater Hamilton, including Sackville Hill Seniors Recreation Centre, Neighbour2Neighbour Centre, and in public libraries. Offered in partnership with the Hamilton Council on Aging and Information Hamilton.
Here is more information if you are interested in becoming a Peer Connector.
Reports to the Community
Our 1st Age Friendly Community Forum was held March, 2016.
Where We Are Today Hamilton’s Journey to Becoming an Age-Friendly City.
We presented a Progress Report to the City of Hamilton’s Community & Emergency Services Department, Neighbourhood & Community Initiatives Division, December, 2016.
Our 2nd Annual Community Forum is planned for March, 2017. Watch our website for more news about this upcoming event!
The City of Hamilton reports on many areas of progress we have made implementing Hamilton’s Plan.
Effective communication ensures that information is received as intended, and acquired as desired. It is one of the dimensions of an Age-Friendly community. Seniors indicate they want information about people, events, services, infrastructure and businesses, communicated through age-inclusive design.
Profiles age-inclusive design of print, internet, telephone communication, and some pointers about in-person contact. Use the checklist as a tool to identify recommended practices in age-friendly communication, assess your current practices, and guide areas for improvement.
Age-Friendly Communication. Tips, Facts, and Ideas. Public Health Agency of Canada, 2010.
How to Make Websites Accessible. Government of Ontario. Retrieved December 2016.
Getting Around Hamilton
Age Friendly Recreational Trails
Let’s Take a Walk. An Age-Friendly Guide to 18 of Hamilton’s Outdoor Recreational Trails is a guide provides information about Hamilton area trails, including maps, pictures, walkability, and points of interest. Information on how to access the trails using public transit (HSR) is also provided.
Promoting Walkable Neighbourhoods
Walkable neighbourhoods promote health and well-being, foster social connections and generate a sense of belonging in your community. Everyone benefits from walking.
The City of Hamilton has endorsed the International Charter for Walking, which supports actions that
- reduce physical, social & institutional barriers to walking
- create well-designed places and spaces to walk in comfort and safety
- encourage walking.
The purpose of the Hamilton Pedestrian Mobility Plan is to develop safe, interesting and inclusive pedestrian environments. A key feature of this Plan is “routine accommodation”. Conditions for pedestrians, such as intersections, sidewalks and benches, are intended to be routinely improved with every roadwork project the City undertakes.
Not all neighbourhoods are well designed for walkability, yet. Hamilton’s Plan for An Age-Friendly City, supports actions that foster active transportation, including walkable neighbourhoods.
In 2010, eight Hamilton neighbourhoods having a high concentration of seniors were assessed for walkability by seniors, working alongside university students. The neighbourhoods surveyed were: Beasley; Church of the Ascension; the area around St. Peter’s Hospital; Ottawa Street; Riverdale; Jamesville; Upper Gage and Fennell; and Sackville Hill Park.
Use this easy-to-use Checklist to audit the walkability and safety of areas in Hamilton that you wish to walk in. Information on how to forward concerns and suggestions for improvement are provided.
This Guide is to accompany the All Season Age Friendly Pedestrian Safety and Walkability Checklist. It provides detailed information and explanations on the features being assessed in the Checklist.