Cambridge wants to hire a part-time recreation coordinator to help the city achieve its goal of becoming an Age-Friendly City.
The move comes at the request of the Cambridge Council on Aging (CCOA) which recommended the city join the World Health Organization’s Age-Friendly Cities and Communities (AFCs) and strive to meet the WHO’s definition of an age-friendly community.
After council asked staff to report back on what actions need to be taken to achieve AFC status, staff have determined work to get there will require additional staff and is recommending a part- time recreation coordinator for the job.
Adding the new role to the city’s payroll will cost $57,269 annually and would be part of the salary plan for the recreation and culture division’s annual operating budget. The addition of new staff would be included as part of next year’s budget deliberations.
Age-friendly communities allow people of all ages to participate in activities that keep the community healthy and encourage economic stability, while allowing older persons to stay connected and remain independent by removing any barriers that may prevent seniors from aging actively.
Although participation in the WHO Age-Friendly Network is free and doesn’t require cities to have achieved “age friendliness” prior to joining, the city believes an investment in staff resources will be needed to achieve a list of goals.
Those goals include improved accessibility, walkability and safety; reduced isolation, improved inclusion and intergenerational connections; improved quality of life and improved access and awareness of health and community services.
Advantages of membership in the network include access to information and support shared with a global community, recognition on the Age-Friendly World website and opportunities for collaboration with other AFCs in the network, which already include London, Waterloo and Guelph.
Cambridge has already spent more than a decade working toward age friendliness.
The CCOA evolved from an initiative that began in 2010 when the Social Planning Council of Cambridge and North Dumfries (SPCCND) undertook a needs assessment to identify areas of concern for seniors in the community.
An Age-Friendly Action Plan was developed by SPCCND in 2013 but council didn’t have funding in place to endorse the plan at the time of the request.
Then in 2018, CCOA nominated the City of Cambridge as their partner in developing an AFC, which led the city to win the Ontario Age-Friendly Community Award that March.