Forums planned for later this month

Sep 17, 2019 by Steve Henschel Niagara-on-the-Lake Advance

Niagara-on-the-Lake has long been regarded as a pretty great place to live, but there is always room for improvement — and, with a changing face of the community, its focus on wellness too must change.

How NOTL can improve its wellness efforts for young and old alike, is the focus of the town’s new Community Wellness Committee created by council, rolling together the Age Friendly Committee and others such as active transportation into an overarching body focused on improving life for all citizens of the town.

“NOTL has this rap that we are all just a bunch of seniors,” said committee chair Cindy Grant, explaining, at least in part, the impetus behind the new committee and its focus on a broad spectrum of wellness for all.

Her sentiments were echoed in part by Lord Mayor Betty Disero, who said one need look no further than the large number of children participating in community events such as last Sunday’s Terry Fox Run to understand that NOTL is indeed more than a community of retirees.

“Young families are coming in,” said Disero, adding, “it’s an opportunity to improve.”

Disero explained that she has always viewed three pillars for any successful community: economic development, responsible land use and wellness. The last of those three prongs is the focus of the committee, and Disero hopes with public consultation sessions approaching, a community-driven wellness plan will soon be ready to guide council in its decision-making.

“There’s a lot of potential ideas out there,” said Disero.

Grant explained, with online surveys moving forward, that the committee has already identified eight core domains of wellness, including community vitality, including transportation; culture and leisure; democratic engagement; education; environment; health; living standards such as affordable housing; and time use.

All those domains will be on the table at the upcoming workshops on Thursday, Sept. 26. The workshops will see groups of citizens engage on each domain identifying areas that need improvement, but also possible solutions and avenues for action.

Grant was quick to note that NOTL is already a fantastic place to live, but, with changing demographics — including an increasing number of young families and aging seniors — there will be challenges in the years ahead to ensure all residents are well-served.

The open houses will take place at the NOTL Community Centre. Sessions will consist of a welcome and introduction, followed by a brief presentation on the eight domains of wellness before participants break into small groups for facilitated discussion. Two workshops will run on Sept. 26, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., and from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.