Telkwa is one of three communities in northern B.C. to be officially recognized as an age-friendly community by the province this year.
“Well I’m pretty proud of it to be honest, ” said Mayor Carman Graf. “It means a whole lot to be living in an age-friendly community. People help people, we have lots of volunteers to do a lot of different things.”
To be recognized as “age-friendly,” a community must support and encourage older residents to remain healthy and continue to live active lifestyles.
Over the last couple of years, Telkwa has implemented a number of age-friendly initiatives after an extensive consultation process with seniors in 2012 about improvements they would like to see in the village.
According to Jane Stevenson, the economic development officer with the village, they have installed roughly five grit boxes throughout the village to prevent injuries in the winter, added accessible washrooms in the community hall and at the public bathrooms at Eddy Park, and worked with the Telkwa Seniors Housing Society to put up an outdoor exercise park.
“We’ve worked hard to make our village more senior-friendly and more accessible,” said Stevenson.
“Every project that we do, we try and look at accessibility as a checklist, a due diligence factor, looking at how our initiatives will be accessible for all of our citizens.”
Graf said that he also uses the exercise equipment on Aldermere Ridge from time to time.
“It’s just nice to be recognized for initiatives that take place,” he added.
Jim Hiltz, a retiree who has lived in Telkwa for years, believes the village is a great place for seniors to live.
“I love living here, I wouldn’t trade it for the world,” he said. “Seniors are looking for open space more than they are walking around town, and there’s lot of open space here. There’s also enough trails that we can stay off the road.”
Stevenson said they are always look for ways to improve the well-being of the seniors in the village.
“Right now, the focus is on trying to make our village municipal office more accessible,” she said.
“We’re looking for further funding to get the reception and the till and the cash and all sorts of things downstairs on the main floor. That way we’re not asking people who may have a challenge to try and navigate a set of stairs.”
The villages of Anmore and Granisle, Cobble Hill in the Cowichan Valley Regional District, the City of Vancouver, and the districts of Kent, Kitimat and Vanderhoof also received age-friendly awards this year.