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Age Friendly Cities and the District of Saanich

Municipality of Saanich Age Friendly Cities ReportThe World Health Organization (WHO) released a Policy Framework on Active Aging in 2002, to support communities in developing and strengthening health and social policies in an aging world. This policy framework recognizes that older people face increasing challenges due to the sensory, physiological and other changes that age brings.

The Global Age-Friendly Cities Project, which is funded in part by the federal Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), is an attempt to make large urban centres around the world better places to live for the aging population. The Global Age-Friendly Cities project builds on the Policy Framework on Active Aging by focusing on the environmental and social factors that contribute to healthy, active aging in urban settings. There are 33 partner cities including Rio de Janeiro, Cancun, Nairobi, Moscow, New Delhi, and Tokyo. Each partner city consulted with older persons, community leaders and gerontology experts to identify the major physical and social barriers to active aging. This knowledge has been used to identify concrete age-friendly indicators and to produce a practical tool to guide advocacy, community development and policy changes to support an age-friendly environment.

In 2006, the Province of British Columbia selected Saanich to be their partner city to collaborate with the World Health Organization and other cities in this world-wide project to make cities more “age-friendly”. This report presents the findings of the local research conducted by the University of Victoria’s Centre on Aging, consultation with community agencies and citizens and strategic planning by municipal staff representing a diverse range of public services.

The Age Friendly Cities project represents the work of the community with support from many partners. The Municipality of Saanich would like to thank our partners for supporting this project: The Province of British Columbia Ministry of Healthy Living and Sport, Vancouver Island Health Authority, BC Transit, Saanich Silver Threads, Seniors Serving Seniors, Saanich Volunteer Services Society and TD Canada Trust Shelbourne St.


What is an Age Friendly City?

The World Health Organization defines an “age-friendly” community as one in which service providers, public officials, community leaders, faith leaders, business people and citizens: recognize the great diversity among older persons, promote their inclusion and contribution in all areas of community life, respect their decisions and lifestyle choices, and anticipate and respond flexibly to aging-related needs and preferences. In an age-friendly community, policies, programs, services and infrastructure related to the physical and social environment are designed to enable older people to live in security, enjoy good health and continue to participate in society in a meaningful way. It takes into account the biological, psychological, behavioural, economic, social and environmental factors that operate over the course of a person’s life to determine health and well-being in later years.

An age-friendly community benefits people of all ages. Secure neighbourhoods are safe for children, youth, women and older adults. Families experience less worry and stress when their older relations have the services and supports they need. Barrier free buildings and streets enhance the mobility and independence of both younger and older persons with disabilities. The whole community benefits from the participation of older persons in volunteer or paid work and civic activities. Making cities age-friendly is one of the most effective policy approaches for responding to demographic aging.

National and Provincial Perspectives on Age Friendly Cities

Canada has received international recognition for its role in the creation and development of the age friendly cities guidelines and continues to support the work of cities and rural communities across the country. For more information on Canada’s role, please visit:

Province of British Columbia

British Columbia is seen as a leader in Canada for the creation of age-friendly communities throughout the province. Resources and support for local governments and other organizations are provided by the Seniors Healthy Living Secretariat, Ministry of Health Services. For more information about Age-friendly British Columbia, see

The Way Forward…Age Friendly Saanich

Participation in the WHO Global Age Friendly Cities Project has left an indelible mark on the Municipality of Saanich. Through the research conducted by the University of Victoria’s Centre On Aging to the planning and discussions of municipal staff at all levels of the corporation, Saanich is well positioned to be responsive to the changing demographics and needs of our population.

Several key themes have emerged that reveal the Saanich perspective of the foundation for an Age Friendly City:

Value Older Persons – provide opportunities for meaningful participation and involvement of older persons in multiple levels of planning and service delivery,

Responsive Planning and Development - acknowledge and recognize the diverse needs of older people in planning and development as the presence of appropriate infrastructure and adaptations to existing structures are important to this population and represent a strong commitment to age friendliness,

Relationships and Partnerships – this project primarily reveals the Municipality’s response to the barriers and issues discovered in the research process, however, to become an Age Friendly City the whole community needs to be involved.  The Municipality continues to work with local partners to deliver social and recreational opportunities to our older citizens and to provide avenues for community participation. For more information on the services provided by our partners please visit the following links:

Maintain Momentum with Action – as Saanich found, communities engaging in the Age Friendly planning process will experience the heightened awareness and momentum these kinds of project can initiate. The challenge for all communities is to maintain that inertia with actions that continue to address the needs of older citizens.

For further information and examples of initiatives and programs within Saanich which support the principles and concepts of an age friendly city please see the following sites:

Last modified: February 18, 2016