Think about it: the pioneers who came to Whistler when the mountain opened in 1966 at the ripe age of 20 -and there are dozens of them still in town - are now 64 years old.
But while many seniors have left the community in the past to be closer to support systems they need, a growing number are choosing to age in place and retire in the community they helped to build. To that end there are at least four seniors' housing projects currently on the books that will help make that possible, while the ongoing work to make the resort more accessible to the disabled has also made it easier for seniors with mobility issues.
Last week the Whistler Community Services Society (WCSS) announced that it had hired Melissa Deller to serve in the new Senior Needs Action Planner position, working with the local Mature Action Committee, the Resort Municipality and the WCSS to identify needs and deliver programs to meet the needs of seniors.
"The main project we're working on right now is creating a resource guide that will help people navigate all the resources in Whistler for seniors living here - and also for people visiting that may need some support," explained Deller. The guide should be ready in the fall.
"Second of all we'll be doing some outreach with seniors, some of which are isolated or in need of assistance like help with groceries... or completing the activites of daily living like meal preparation. Some are ill or have had surgery, so navigating a kitchen can be quite difficult."
The concept is completely new to Whistler, as coordinator Deller will also be working with the Mature Action Committee to determine what seniors' needs are going to be and what programs may be required now, and in the next five, 10 and 15 years as the senior population increases.
"There are people who have built homes and will not want to leave Whistler, so we're creating a plan for allowing those people to stay in their homes and age successfully in Whistler."
As well, Deller sits on the accessibility task for Whistler 2020, which will help individuals with disabilities and seniors get around town more easily.
"We have a really unique population of seniors here because they are so active and their interests are so variable," she said. "There is a lot of potential for programs, which is why we're working with MAC to determine was those interests are."
The position is part time, two days per week.
Deller has a degree in Gerontology and 10 years experience working in her field in Squamish, Whistler and Ontario, developing and implementing programs "to meet social, spiritual, physical and emotional needs" of seniors.
The position was identified through Whistler 2020 task force on health and social needs.
WCSS raising funds for Food Bank
Any cash donations made to the Whistler Food Bank between June 1 and June 11 will be eligible to earn a matching donation from Kraft Canada, up to $13,500. If you were planning on making a donation to the Food Bank this year, now is a pretty good time. To donate to the Food Bank visit www.mywcss.org.