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Age-friendly Waterloo

A man and woman in a forest

The City of Waterloo is an age-friendly city, where people of all ages thrive and grow.

Our commitment to age friendliness was recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO), which designated Waterloo among the Global Network of Age-friendly Cities in 2012 for our commitment to assessing and improving our age-friendliness.

To receive this designation, the city's age-friendly Waterloo multi-agency committee established a mechanism to include older people, developed and administered a baseline assessment tool of the age-friendliness of our city and developed a city-wide action plan based on the findings. Our WHO membership is contingent upon demonstrating continual improvement. The committee and city staff are working in partnership with Dr. John Lewis of the University of Waterloo to continually assess and improve our age-friendliness. Membership in this network has such advantages as connecting us to a global network of aging experts, facilitating collaborative activities and providing guidance on developing and implementing age-friendly approaches, among others.

In 2018, Dr. Lewis and a team of graduate students from the University of Waterloo School of Planning prepared an evaluation report summarizing the city's challenges and areas of strength as an aspiring age-friendly community. The evaluation was based on data collected from focus group sessions held early in 2018.

Please join us!

Bridges

The City of Waterloo, through the city's age-friendly Waterloo multi-agency committee, will be developing and launching an intergenerational learning program, Bridges, funded in part by the Government of Canada's New Horizons for Seniors Program

Intergenerational learning involves any set of planned activities between two or more generations that typically involve the sharing of knowledge, skills or life experiences. Intergenerational learning is based on a desire to combat ageism and age segregation by creating programs and opportunities for interaction across generations.

In partnership with faculty from the University of Waterloo's School of Planning and community organizations such as the Waterloo Region Immigration Partnership and the Kitchener Waterloo Multicultural Centre, city staff and committee members are planning activities that will provide opportunities for senior Waterloo residents of diverse cultural backgrounds to share traditions and customs with members of their own and other communities in a stimulating social setting.

The City of Waterloo ranks among the top five cities in Canada as a destination for new Canadians. The Bridges project will be a unique approach to intergenerational learning where older adults from the city's growing ethno-cultural communities will be invited as mentors and teachers to share their talents, skills and experiences in a workshop setting with youth and young adults.

The team is preparing a series of pilot programs to test out different ideas on how to best bring older adult and youth together to share cultural knowledge. They are looking for older residents with gifts, skills and knowledge that they can share and for younger residents who are interested in learning about a variety of intergenerational topics.

To register to become part of the program, or to learn more, visit  www.bridgeswaterloo.com

Canada's multicultural society is recognized the world over as a model of rare achievement. The Bridges project is designed to build on this achievement to further the capacity of Waterloo's diverse citizenry and to provide an example to other Canadian communities by bridging cultures through generations to foster stronger, healthier communities.

The Bridges project supports the city's age-friendly Waterloo multi-agency committee's age-friendly action plan which is a baseline assessment tool of the age-friendliness of the city and a mechanism for inclusion. The committee works to ensure that residents age safely, enjoy good health and participate fully in their community.

Project contact:
Dr. John L. Lewis, Associate Professor
School of Planning, University of Waterloo
Environment 3, 3317
200 University Avenue West
Waterloo, Ontario, N2L 3G1
Office: 519.888.4567 x 33185
Mobile: 519.502.8833

Additional information about age-friendly Waterloo

The age-friendly Waterloo multi-agency committee works to ensure that residents age safely, enjoy good health and participate fully in their World Health Organization designated age-friendly Waterloo. What follows are the outcomes of this work.

Ontario Age-friendly Community Recognition Award

On March 26, 2018, the City of Waterloo received the 2018 Ontario Age-friendly Community Recognition Award from the Province of Ontario. This award celebrates the work of Ontario municipalities who strive to be age-friendly and who showcase promising practices across the province. Waterloo, along with neighbouring cities, Kitchener and Cambridge received this award for being communities characterized by accessible, inclusive environments, both physical and social, that enable seniors to live independent, healthy and active, safe and socially connected lives. Communities selected for this award demonstrate a strong commitment to key principles of creating age-friendliness, including engagement with local seniors, collaboration with a diversity of community partners and significant impact on the local community.  

Older adult housing

One of the recommendations from the committee's action plan was to develop an older adult housing directory. In addition to basic information about older adult housing such as contact details, cost, number of units, unit sizes and level of care available, this directory also provides information about amenities provided at each location and in the surrounding neighbourhoods.

In the January, 2017 issue of SHOWbiz, Supportive Housing of Waterloo's newsletter, the organization cited their new nine-unit affordable apartment building for seniors and prematurely aged adults, as supporting a key need identified by the age friendly Waterloo forum - increasing the stock of affordable housing for seniors.  The apartment building will be located at 402 Erb Street. To view the complete article visit the supportive Housing of Waterloo website.

Elder abuse

On June 15, 2017, the Elder Abuse Prevention Council and the Age-Friendly Waterloo Multi-Agency Committee co-hosted a free lunch and learn about the role of inclusion in elder abuse prevention. This event celebrated World Elder Abuse Awareness Day and included guest speakers Jean Becker, Senior Advisor: Aboriginal Initiatives, Wilfrid Laurier University and Kathy Hogarth, Assistant Professor, School of Social Work, Renison University College, University of Waterloo.

The annual mayor's forum on age-friendly Waterloo

Nov. 24, 2017: City of Waterloo Mayor Dave Jaworsky and the Age-friendly Waterloo Multi-agency committee l explored the benefits of life-long learning. Residents learned about community educational programs through presentations and at pop-up booths hosted by local educators, the City of Waterloo and the Waterloo Public Library staff and leaders. For more information, view the summary report for this, the 9th annual mayor's age-friendly forum.

Dec. 2, 2016: At this year's forum, residents learned about the committee's new structure and how the age-friendly lens enables active aging, builds cultural sensitivity and combats ageism. For more information view the summary report.

Nov. 20, 2015: This year's forum was themed Ageing Across the Spectrum and included representation from  elementary, high school and post-secondary students in a discussion about accessibility and outdoor spaces, housing, transportation, respect and social inclusion. For more information view the summary report.

Nov. 24, 2014: A summary report of the event highlights the continued need for social inclusion, more affordable and centrally located housing, better accessibility, both in terms of the built environment and services, as well as more age appropriate channels of communication.

More information and resources

  • The terms of reference provide more information on about the city's age-friendly Waterloo multi-agency committee.
  • The committee made this presentation to council in January 2012 on the occasion of the City of Waterloo being designated an age-friendly city.
  • On June 24, 2013, the Mayor's advisory committee for age-friendly Waterloo presented to council a summary report of their work to date along with a recommended action plan for continuing to develop the city as a sustainable, age-friendly community.
  • On September 30, 2013, city staff submitted a report to council regarding the action plan recommendations and the status of the recommendations at that point in time.
  • October 1, 2014, marked the launch of the World Health Organization's website, Age-friendly World. Many cities and communities are taking active steps towards becoming more age-friendly. This website provides more information about these communities, including Waterloo, in the section on the WHO Global Network of Age-friendly Cities and Communities.
  • wwhealthline.ca is an online directory of health and community services that puts accurate and up-to-date information  at the fingertips of consumers and health professionals across Waterloo-Wellington. It's maintained by the Waterloo Wellington Community Care Access Centre.