CARP Advisor Talks Aging and Housing in Fort McMurray

Written by Naomi Mison, Connect News
Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Gail Hinchliffe. (Naomi Mison)

The municipality invited seniors to the Golden Years Society on May 10 for a learning event called Aging in Place in the City Centre, which included discussions, a presentation and an update on the status of the Willow Square “Aging in Place” facility.

Discussion topics at the event included current research on gerontology-the study of older people and the issues associated with an aging society, developmental stages in the aging process, importance of housing for seniors, what makes a healthy aging in place facility and how to integrate aging in place facilities in an urban environment.

“The concept behind the aging in place is that seniors can stay in one facility through the aging process. It is more versatile and allows transition,” Chris Naudi, a communications advisor with the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo said. “This facility will allow seniors to maintain an active lifestyle, because all amenities will be at their fingertips.”

“We invited the public to our initial kick-off meeting in April. There was great attendance and we were able to find out what are priorities are.

“We are trying to describe and create a type program that would be in place at the facility,” Naudi said.

“We were able to pinpoint that seniors still wanted to be part of the community.”

It was approximately 10 months ago that the Alberta government announced that the long-term care facility would be build across the street from the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre in Willow Square (corner of Franklin Avenue and Hospital Street). Seniors in Wood Buffalo have been leading the fight for this type of facility in a centralized location.

“I fought for a facility to be built downtown. I went to all of the meetings. It would be no good to me unless you can access downtown,” said Millicent Compton, who was in attendance at the event.

Gail Hinchliffe, the National Chairman of the CARP (Canadian Association of Retired Persons) Advisory Board, reiterated the need for a centrally located facility. Hinchliffe gave a PowerPoint presentation to the audience on the current research on Gerontology.

“When you have to look at population of seniors, you need to think of what contributes to the independence of seniors, to their well-being; and that’s not to be isolated,” Hinchliffe said.

“This particular location has everything. It is close to shopping, recreation facilities and the walking trails that are being built in and along the river.

“There are many opportunities just given the location that is going to support the seniors living there.”

With the land secured, the project now needs to get to tender. Once the tender is accepted and the design phase is completed, it will take approximately 18 months for completion.

“Fort McMurray is developing into a community for families, which includes seniors.

“The facility will balance the population for years to come by allowing young people an opportunity to learn from the seniors who build this community,” Hinchliffe said.

For more information on the strategy behind aging in place, visit

Originally Published in Connect