Posted by: Anna Cuylits
On September 13th, Senior Watch Old Ottawa South (SWOOS) reached out to the three candidates running in Capital Ward.
We provided background information, the link to the SWOOS Webpage and sent four (4) reminders informing the candidates that we would like responses in time for publication on National Seniors Day.
So far we have received a response from Shawn Menard.
Please find below the question and response.
Considering the projects we are currently working on i.e. Primary Care, Home Care, Housing, Technological Initiatives, the Pilot Project and Walkability, which ones would receive your attention and support and what would you do to support those projects?
Seniors Watch Old Ottawa South is an important advocate in our community, keeping a focus on the issues, needs and concerns of aging residents. Older adults have unique and acute needs to ensure that they can continue living in their neighbourhood and participating in community life. Over the past four years, we have had a number of opportunities to collaborate on concrete issues in Capital Ward and across the city. We have worked together with SWOOS restoring a much-needed bus stop to Sunnyside, working with the snow moles to improve snow-clearing standards for sidewalks and crosswalks, and ensuring the re-design of the Bank Street Bridge meets all necessary accessibility needs. We co-hosted an Older Adult Forum this past spring, addressing the lack of primary care and support services available to the older adult population.
SWOOS’s current projects, including the Seniors Health Innovation Hub, will continue this valuable work, and I will be proud to work with SWOOS in these efforts. The provision of primary care and home care will be of paramount importance as our population ages, and every level of government—along with community and charitable organizations—will have a role to play. Partial funding should come from the City of Ottawa, and we can help SWOOS apply for grants from other orders of government. There is money available for these types of projects, but you have to find it and may need local government support to attain it.
We will also work as a liaison between SWOOS, the city and builders to identify locations and public buildings that could house many of the services proposed by SWOOS. Integrating these services with our network of community centres and community health centres will offer a wider reach for these services.
Ensuring that there is affordable housing for seniors as they age will also be important. We have established a ward fund for affordable housing, and we are currently working with various public sector stakeholders to create affordable housing for seniors in the Deschâtelets Building in Old Ottawa East. We’ve also signed MOU’s with the building developer at Bank and Riverside for “Abbeyfield” type housing with seniors supports, with the help of SWOOS.
The walkability audits conducted by SWOOS have highlighted some challenges. We need to reconsider how we build wider, flat sidewalks; fixing the sidewalks we have; adjusting street lights to give pedestrians longer and more frequent walk signals (as we have along Bank Street and Main Street); create better separation between pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers; implementing more public bench seating and making more public bathrooms available.
Implementing pilot projects will be a useful way to both try new ideas and implement improvements quickly. We have had success with a number of pilot projects, including the addition of active transportation lanes on the Bank Street Bridge and Carling Avenue. We can try more of these types of projects, as well as projects that improve seating, and make our parks and public spaces more accessible.
We can also conduct pilot projects on new technology. This could include apps that could both act as a clearing house for city information, and could integrate with other services through public APIs. As councillor, I would help marshal it through city approvals and coordinate with city web developers to ensure proper integration.
It is exciting to hear about the various ideas SWOOS has to improve the quality of life for older adults. There is definitely a role for the city and the city councillor to play, and I look forward to collaborating with you for the next four years.