Note: The Age-Friendly North Lanark Committee reached out to municipal election candidates with questions about issues of importance to seniors in our community. Their responses are being published here. These are from Mary Lou Souter and Vicki Lowe.
Dispatches from an Age-Friendly Community
Calling all candidates: inquiring minds want to know — what is your platform for making Mississippi Mills age-friendly for all?
We know that Mississippi Mills has a large and growing senior population.
We know that the built, social, and natural environments have a direct and major impact on seniors’ health, quality of life, and independence.
We know that Municipal Councils play an important role in making this happen in concrete, practical ways.
We appreciate the time and effort of all candidates who are standing for election this term. Thank you for trying to make good things happen in our community!
Our municipal election is October 24th. What is your platform? As a candidate in our upcoming election, we want to hear from you about:
- Road traffic is increasing and speeding is a serious safety issue across Mississippi Mills. Citizens are putting road safety signs on their front lawns across the municipality. Some communities are reducing neighborhood speed limits, however signage and policing alone are not enough to keep our streets safe. What will you as a member of Council do?
- The joint use of facilities and programs between communities, such as aquatics, library services etc., were recently discontinued. Seniors tell us that they can no longer afford the fees for the aquatics program at the Carleton Place pool. What will you as a member of Council do?
- Transportation within town and within our rural areas is a serious issue for seniors. What will you as a member of Council do?
- Affordable, accessible and available housing is deemed a human right by the World Health Organization, the United Nations and our own Ontario Human Rights Commission. There is a 5 to 8 years wait for affordable housing in our region. What will you as a member of Council do?
- Mississippi Mills seniors tell us they would like to age in their own homes. To do so, reliable and comprehensive home support services are essential. For example, the closure of the Pakenham Home Support Program left many seniors without support. How will you as a member of Council make ‘aging in place’ a realistic option for Mississippi Mills seniors?
- Staying connected is vital for active aging. Many citizens don’t have reliable broadband WiFi across Mississippi Mills. What will you as a member of Council do?
- Age-friendly communities recognize the diversity, value and gifts of all. Neighbourhoods that are connected have less crime, are safer and more resilient. Will you, as a member of Council, encourage the formation of neighbourhood associations?
- We are seeing more and more serious climate events. For instance, wide swaths of our region were without power for days following the May 2022, Derecho. Seniors are concerned about the world they are leaving for their grandchildren. Seniors tell us that they want to think globally and act locally. What will you as a member of Council do?
Mary Lou Souter’s Answers
Traffic and speeding
During my canvassing, the concerns about speeding have been repeated many times by residents in many neighbourhoods. I think that a comprehensive study of traffic patterns and traffic calming measures, including information from other municipalities and recommendations for mediation, should be undertaken in 2023. At this point I don’t know how that study could be financed.
Joint use of facilities
I support the negotiation of a new Pool Use agreement between Mississippi Mills and Carleton Place, and I will volunteer to be part of this process.
I’m not sure I understand this question. Are you referring to a form of public transportation? This community does not seem large enough to support a regular bus system; however, I don’t have any data to support this statement; I would have to do considerable research to find small community transportation models. Mississippi Mills is fortunate in having programs under Carebridge Community Support that provide transportation services to medical appointments, recreational outings and social events sponsored by the corporation.
There are two terms that are often mistaken for each other: affordable housing and social housing.
Lanark County has conducted a study into the housing problem titled “Municipal Tools to Support Affordable Housing”; the Final Report was published in March 2022. Although I’ve read this report in response to your survey, I will need more time to analyze its contents and apply the findings to the local context. This I promise to do as a Councillor.
Mississippi Mills has already begun the process of applying the reports findings to its local by-laws. I will support all efforts at both tiers to tackle this complex problem. By-laws allowing “additional units” in residences, partnerships with Carebridge Community Support Corporation stand out as first steps in tackling this complex problem.
As you know, Lanark County council is responsible for “Social Housing” in Mississippi Mills as well as the rest of the County. They do have plans to increase social housing stock across all age groups.
I will support our local representatives at County Council in their efforts to expand the types and supply of “social housing” in Mississippi Mills.
Aging in place
As far as I know, home support services fall under the provincial mandate, services which are downloaded to local or regional care networks. The major problem is the lack of gov’t supported home supports. Frail Seniors need more than 1-3 hours per week – a minimum of an hour a day, delivered regularly by a consistent staff who can get to know the client on a personal level would be ideal.The provincial government must be actively lobbied to provide more financial resources for home care; it is after all, much less expensive than hospital or nursing home care.
I have to pass on this question; I do not have enough information to understand the authorities involved in expanding WiFi.
I don’t quite understand this question. It would be easy to simply say “Yes”. However, I’m not sure what you mean. Do you mean formal associations with mandates for Neighbourhood Watch functions or informal associations which encourage personal partnerships – neighbours regularly calling neighbours to ensure their safety and comfort?I applaud the role of Carebridge and organizations such as Home Hospice North Lanark and the Alzheimer Society’s “day away programs” that help both clients and caregivers to keep seniors in their own homes as long as possible.Often, information is key to inclusion and support. Recently, Carebridge and the local municipalities co-operated in producing The North Lanark Age-Friendly Directory. This publication is an extensive compilation of services and programs available to seniors in our community. The directory lists the necessary healthcare supports and services you may need as you age, and reaches beyond to highlight the smaller, community groups and organizations that make this area such a great place to live. The objective is to connect people on an individual level, promote local age-friendly businesses, and build community.Mississippi Mills is a diverse community, both rural and urban, and the challenges to seniors are more acute when physical distance and lack of transportation are factored in.As a Councillor, I would connect with the organizations that connect with seniors
I agree; as a grandmother myself, I fear for the world my grandchildren will face when they grow up. I know we cannot “save the world”, but I hope we can help preserve our small corner of it.I will actively support the Lanark County Climate Action Plan, and its five-step milestone process to reduce carbon emissions.I will learn more about the efforts of the Climate Network Lanark and I will actively support the million trees project in partnership with RVCA.
Vicki Lowe’s Answers
Traffic and speeding
I believe in a multi-pronged approach:
- We should look at the timing of walk signals in areas that seniors frequent (Shoppers Drug Mart in Almonte is a good example.) An extension of the walk time has been proven to lower incidents.
- Improved signage in these areas to alert drivers to the presence of different abilities of pedestrians
- Public safety alerts using all types of media to remind drivers to slow down.
- Continuing to install lighted cross walks to give pedestrians the right of way at major pedestrian crossings
- Education of pedestrians to wear bright colours when walking, especially at dawn and dusk.
Joint use of facilities
We need to get back to the table with Carleton Place and surrounding municipalities to share the costs of recreation. I believe with the right council in place, we will be able to work on rebuilding relationships with our neighbours. With costs of operating facilities increasing, the need to work together will become more important.
Traffic in Blakeney needs to be worked on quickly. Residents there are worried for the young children in the area because of the increase in traffic and speed. Blakeney has become a thoroughfare for people wanting to avoid driving through Almonte to get to Ottawa. As Almonte grows, it’s important to pay attention to the areas that are experiencing overflow issues.I will continue to communicate with Ramsay residents about what is working, and where we need to focus our attention with regards to road safety.
I believe the current council has begun the work of bringing more affordable housing to the community. This needs to remain a priority for council in the next term. But along with housing, we need to make sure that services are within walking distance for senior residences. I think the Linn Bower design in Clayton is an excellent example of what we should continue to look to provide for our seniors.
Aging in place
I need to do more research on this topic. I think it’s important that seniors have the option to age in place, but I need to research more about the resources that currently exist that could be built on to support this.
Lanark County is part of thirteen eastern Ontario counties that are working to improve broadband and cell service. They have created a non-profit organization to work on this. Mississippi Mills council needs to have a representative on that non-profit, and it also needs to advocate for Mississippi Mills to ensure that our community is in the plans for expanded service.
Absolutely. As we grow this will become more important than ever. Neighbourhood associations can be a great asset to a town council. Each neighbourhood Association Chair could have a direct line to their ward councillors and therefore provide feedback and information to and from their association.
Mississippi Mills Council needs to work closely with the Mississippi Valley Conservation Authority to ensure that the watershed is properly managed. They need to make sure that the Municipality water system is safe and secure, and that the infrastructure is kept in good repair. Council needs to ensure that waste diversion is properly managed and processed properly to keep as much waste as possible out of landfill sites.