Network making strides towards an age friendly London

An initiative to make London more age friendly has celebrated two years of community effort.

The Age Friendly London Network (AFLN) held its two-year open house on June 25 to celebrate its accomplishments, provide updates on projects that are underway, and to raise awareness about the value of being an Age Friendly City.

“Today we are celebrating the accomplishments of the Age Friendly London Network and acknowledging the hard work and dedication that our members have displayed over the past year,” said Lynne Livingstone, managing director of neighbourhood, children and fire services for the City of London. “Our second year of implementing the Age Friendly London Three Year Action Plan has seen the working groups tackle some of the large, complex issues that affect older adults in London, such as social inclusion, access to community supports, and ageing-in-place. We are looking forward to building on this momentum.”

The vision of the AFLN is: A diverse, vibrant, caring and healthy community which empowers all individuals to age well and have opportunities to achieve their full potential.

London officials are taking a proactive approach to creating inclusive, accessible and supportive communities through the work of the AFLN.

Now in its second of a three-year action plan, it is responsible for implementing 37 strategies within the eight domains of age-friendliness. These eight domains of age-friendliness are:

  1. Outdoor spaces and buildings
  2. Transportation
  3. Housing
  4. Social participation
  5. Respect and social inclusion
  6. Civic participation and employment
  7. Communication and information
  8. Community support and health services.

Year two accomplishments of the AFLN include:

  • Assessed the age-friendliness of 377 London parks using the Age Friendly Parks checklist, improving the ability to prioritize park upgrades in areas that need them the most.
  • The City of London installed 31 new age friendly park benches (with arms for easier access) along pathways and trails.
  • Developing a multi-language resource (booklet and pamphlet) to teach older adults and new comers to London how to use the bus system (ongoing).
  • Creating an age friendly business check list. This check list and accompanying resources will help businesses make age friendly changes to improve access for older adult consumers (ongoing).
  • Updated the Seniors Affordable Housing Directory to include information on building and surrounding amenities, definitions, accessibility, and subsidized and affordable housing.
  • Mapping older adult programming across the city, to make it easier to find recreation programs in your neighbourhood.
  • Held information sessions to teach service providers how to effectively connect with older adult audiences through key information resources like The, Information London and 211 Ontario.
  • Initiated collaborative conversations with key stakeholders in community supports & health services, to make the system more age friendly to navigate and access.

London’s aging demographic will have a profound impact on the city in the coming years, as trends show that older adults will make up an increasing segment of the population.

In 1996, 1-in-5 Londoners were 55 or older. By 2011, the number rose to 1-in-4. By 2035, it is estimated that 1-in-3 Londoners will be 55 and older.

The AFLN is working towards supporting citywide change that will impact well-being, improve the public’s ability to age-in-place, and help create vibrant and healthy communities.

Additional information is available at


Mental health care facility gets a boost from BMO Financial

The St. Joseph’s Parkwood Institute for Mental Health Care is getting a financial boost.

BMO Financial Group announced June 23 it was making an investment of $150,000 in support of the men, women and adolescents who come to the institute to receive care.

“This gift comes at a critical time and speaks to the growing awareness of mental health issues in our community,” says Michelle Campbell, president and CEO of St. Joseph’s Health Care Foundation. “We’re grateful for the leadership support of BMO Financial Group whose gift signals the vital importance of this area of care.”

This gift, according to institute officials, recognizes St. Joseph’s role in caring for thousands of people in London and region who experience severe mental illness each year.

The funds will help ensure those seeking treatment will continue to receive excellent care in a supportive environment, and live fully within the limitations of their illness.

“At BMO we strongly believe that we have a responsibility to help improve the communities in which we do business,” said Kristen Kennedy, BMO regional vice-president for personal banking. “Being a good corporate citizen is an extremely important component of our overall success, and we aspire to be key contributors to the strength and success of our communities.”

In November 2014, two of Ontario’s longstanding health care facilities — Regional Mental Health Care London and Parkwood Hospital — came together in one location under the new name: Parkwood Institute.

New trails and canoe launch will provide Londoners with greater access to The Coves

London families and nature enthusiasts will soon benefit from greater access and better protection of The Coves.

In partnership with the City of London and Friends of the Coves, the federal government is supporting the East Pond Connection Trails with a contribution of $45,000 as part of a $150,000 project being undertaken by the city to build a fully accessible scenic trail, a new pond lookout and a canoe launch.

This contribution will provide greater access to the Coves, a 65-hectare Environmentally Significant Area, while providing better protection to local plants and animals.

London West MP Ed Holder, Minister of State (Science and Technology), made the announcement at a public event on June 19. Joining Holder for the event were Mayor Matt Brown, members of Friends of the Coves, and students from Kensal Park French Immersion Public School and Victoria Public School.

“Our government is pleased to support the East Pond Connection Trails in The Coves as part of our efforts to expand and improve recreational and multi-purpose trails across the country,” Holder said. “The Coves is a true gem right here inside London city limits and is home to sensitive species of birds, butterflies, rare plants and animals. Our children have the opportunity to play a significant role in the stewardship and restoration of this conservation area; building a trail network will provide Londoners with greater, easier access to this natural oasis while protecting the ecological sensitivity of the area.”

Brown praised the initiative as “a great example” of how the city, the federal government and the community have come together around a significant project in London.

The Coves, Brown said, has long been a coveted place of environmental significance — he hopes the community will continue to enjoy it for generations.

The Friends of the Coves Subwatershed Inc. was created in 2000 by a group of local citizens interested in protecting, restoring and maintaining this unique ecological area.

Participating schools, all located within the boundaries of The Coves have supported student engagement in the Coves restoration for several years.

Today’s federal investment is the result of a partnership between the federal government and the National Trails Coalition (NTC) as part of a $10 million national investment to help expand and rehabilitate Canada’s trails systems.

Jo-Anne Farquhar, president of the NTC board of directors, was on hand and said the organization was founded in the belief that trail users and volunteer trail builders/managers can achieve much more working collaboratively and supporting each other’s goals.

“Thanks to the support of the federal government, trail users have once again been able to apply for project grant money,” Farquhar said. “These additional funds of $10 million from the federal government will ensure the revitalization of recreational trails across our country and provide individuals and families with the opportunity to enjoy quality outdoor infrastructure and continue to live active and healthy lives.”

Thames Valley students to get their finals marks

The Thames Valley School Board announced June 18 it will provide parents with a summary of student marks for the school year.

“By September 2015, parents/guardians will be able to visit their child’s school to receive a summary of the marks submitted by teachers at the end of this school year,” said Laura Elliott, director of education.

Parents should monitor their school website where more details will be posted as they become available.

“Our decision to provide student marks comes after learning that the Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) provincial instructed teachers not to provide or discuss student marks with parents — in contrast to earlier statements made by the union.”

Parents/guardians will still receive the student placement letter on June 19, which remains the official end of year report for students.

London Cares Curb Hunger Food Drive ends on high note

The London Food Bank now has 56,700 pounds of additional food on its shelves thanks to the generosity of Londoners who participated in the 19th Annual London Cares Curb Hunger Food Drive.

“With ever increasing awareness in the last three days of the drive, we knew Londoners would donate in significant numbers. The fact we have well exceeded last year’s total only confirms, once again, that this is a generous city that responds when asked,” said Glen Pearson, co-executive director at the London Food Bank. “Thank you London for caring for your own and for boosting our spirits in the process.”

Similar to 2014, the London Cares Curb Hunger Food Drive struggled with low donations at the beginning of the drive.

However, thanks to Londoners donating at the curb, at the grocery stores and at Tim Horton’s locations, the annual food drive finished strong.

Mayor Matt Brown said he wanted to thank Londoners for their generosity over this past week supporting the drive.

The mayor credited London with being “a compassionate community” and thanked residents for coming together yet again to help those most in need.

After 19 years, the running total for one of Canada’s most unique food drives has now passed the 1.2 million pound mark.

“We encouraged Londoners to give what they could during this food drive and we are very grateful for every donation — large or small — that came in,” said Jay Stanford, director of environment, fleet and solid waste. “Every pound of food donation matters.”

Curb hunger food drive looking for a final boost of generosity

Organizers of the London Cares Curb Hunger Food Drive are asking Londoners for their help.

While the drive had its best day so far on June 11 with 10,700 pounds coming in from curbside donations, as well as items being left at several grocery stores and being dropped off directly at the London Food Bank, a final push is needed to reach the campaign goals.

Londoners have been incredibly generous over the last 18 years of the London Cares Curb Hunger Food Drive donating 1,176,570 pounds of non-perishable items.

On average 3,300 families per month visited the London Food Bank in 2015. The drive is needed to help fill the shelves at the London Food Bank for the upcoming summer months.

One of the keys to the drive is the ease in which Londoners can make their donations.

While buying your groceries on Friday and Saturday, the public is being asked to consider donating non-perishable food items to the London Food Bank donation boxes at the 27 participating grocery stores.

Ideas for donations include canned food, rice, cereal, powdered milk, baby food, pastas and toiletries.

On June 12, the City of London will be collecting curbside in Zone B, which includes residents living in the neighbourhoods of Cherryhill, Masonville, Stoneybrook Acres, Whitehills and Sherwood Forest.

To make a donation curbside, residents are asked to place non-perishable food donations in a bag, tied with a ribbon, beside their Blue Box.

New White Oaks family centre brings community services under one roof

Londoners living in the White Oaks area now have their own facility for bringing the community together

Representatives from the Child and Youth Network (CYN), the City of London, Thames Valley District School Board (TVDSB), London Children’s Connection, South London Neighbourhood Resource Centre, along with residents and neighbourhood associations gathered on June 11 to officially celebrate the grand opening of the Family Centre White Oaks.

The centre has been added to White Oaks Public School.

“Family Centre White Oaks is the third of four neighbourhood locations that are being established as part of London’s plan for a network of Family Centres across the city,” said Lynne Livingstone, CYN chair. “The ultimate goal is improved outcomes for the children, youth and families in our community.”

The development of a Family Centred Service System is one of four strategic priorities that are at the heart of London’s Child and Youth Agenda.

By establishing Family Centres in London neighbourhoods, the Child and Youth Network is expected to bring a full spectrum of family services and supports together under one roof. That one-stop shopping approach is designed to make it easier for families to find and locate the resources and opportunities available within their neighbourhoods.

The Family Centres integrate a core group of programs and services including education and childcare, information, resources and referrals, health and wellness programs, parenting and early learning programs, and recreation and leisure programs.

“The centre will make kids and families stronger. It’s a one-stop shop for families to access great programs and services in a convenient way,” said Mayor Matt Brown. “When residents and organizations collaborate to rethink the ways services are provided, it becomes easier for families to find and connect to information, services and a full range of supports right in their own neighbourhood.”

The Family Centre White Oaks is strategically connected to neighbourhood schools. The intention is to help families build a strong, positive connection to early learning, long before children enter the school system, and to continue to support the families’ within their communities once the children have started school.

The Family Centre White Oaks is part of White Oaks Public School, located beside the South London Community Pool and London Children’s Connection White Oaks Children’s Centre.

“The Thames Valley District School Board staff members are excited to be a part of the Family Centre White Oaks,” said Laura Elliott, director of education for the TVDSB. “Our Mission at TVDSB is ‘We build each student’s tomorrow, every day.’   The Family Centre White Oaks is one more example of how we are working together to build a better community, one student at a time.”