Local advocate attends Tumbler Ridge event

Focus on aging resource community challenges explored at International Symposium on Aging

  • Sep. 10, 2014 7:00 p.m.

During the last week of August four of us from Quesnel had the opportunity to attend the International Symposium on Aging Resource focussing primarily on population dynamics, community development and the voluntary sector.

Maurine Goodenough, Peter Neilsen, Ron Paull and Ruth Scoullar joined presenters in Prince George, Victoria, Eastern Canada, U.K., United States, Australia and Norway. What a privilege it was to attend and especially for someone who had never been to that part of our province. Tumbler Ridge provides a setting to explore the challenges and opportunities that aging resource communities are facing. In March 2000, Teck Corporation announced the closure of the Quintette Mine. The second smaller Bullmoose mine was set to close within two years. Following announcement of the closure, local government negotiated with Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and the mine to acquire 985 units that were then marketed through a national housing campaign by the Tumbler Ridge Housing Corporation.  Within two years about 95 per cent of the properties were sold. While the housing sale brought an influx of many older residents, the community’s workforce was also aging. The Mayor formed the Seniors’ Needs Task Force and a coordinator position was created.

Stakeholders worked with local and provincial organizations to develop Hartford Court to provide seniors with affordable and accessible housing. Community organizations have also drawn upon their local and non-local networks to develop infrastructure and services including the Seniors’ Corner, Meals on Wheels, the Snow Angels program (snow removal),  hospice and respite care, and the medical shuttle van. It is hoped the symposia would provide an opportunity for researchers and rural stakeholders to learn from each other and foster long-term connections to inform future practice in aging resource-based communities. The town of Tumbler Ridge, with a population of about 5,000, has come together to overcome setbacks. Their active Lion’s Club, currently holding the Ducky Run to raise funds, have joined others in encouraging tourists to their areas such as hiking or running trails and sight seeing through incredible rock formations. From our bus we viewed a working coal mine site and on  distant hills were wind turbines.

How can we bring this information back to Quesnel and help find solutions to some of the problems right here in our own community? For some seniors it is shortage of suitable housing. Shortage of beds in Dunrovin long term care facility and the long wait-time to even be addressed?

Two of the many programs mentioned in the symposium were Men in Sheds (MIS), an initiative that began in the U.K. in 1990 and now being used in Australia to help men suffering with loneliness and depression.

It enabled them to have access to tools and a place to work on worthwhile projects and provided camraderie as well as a sense of accomplishment.

Another program of particular interest was for dementia patients in Saskatchewan described space was provided where patients were much freer of drugs and where they could go.

The symposium was sponsored by UNBC, Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada, Peace River Palaeontology Research Centre, Peace River Coal, Trent Centre for Aging and Society, District of Tumbler Ridge, Tumbler Ridge Museum Foundation and Wolverine Nordic Mountain Society.

Apart from the symposium itself, one of the great highlights was a tour of the Dinosaur Discovery Gallery to see dinosaur fossils.

In 2000 two boys discovered a series of what looked like four toed footprints but had a hard time convincing adults of the importance of their find.

Thousands more footprints have since been discovered. Important bone-bed discoveries in 2002 and 2004 intensified and the area now boast several hundred bones, the largest collection in B.C. and the oldest bones in Western Canada. B.C.’s first articulated dinosaur has now been excavated from the area.

– submitted by

Ruth Scoullar

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