By Vivian Moreau
She’s lived in Whistler for years but has made the difficult decision to leave friends and family and move to Vancouver Island. She turned 70 last year and said there just isn’t enough for seniors in Whistler.
“It’s geared toward young people — as it should be because it’s a ski resort,” she said. “And much as we enjoy our families we also need activities and fellowship at our own age.”
It’s the kind of situation Gordon Leidal would like to reverse. As president of Whistler’s Mature Action Committee, a group of 177 Whistler residents over the age of 50 that have banded together to lobby for seniors housing and to support each other with social events, he’d like to keep seniors in town.
“Whistler is a community of empty neighbourhoods,” Leidal said, noting the many vacation homes that stand empty for much of the year that make it hard for seniors to achieve a sense of belonging. And although seniors are the backbone of Whistler’s volunteer force, Leidal said more needs to be done to include them in the town’s matrix.
Initially formed in 1993 to lobby for seniors’ housing, the Mature Action Committee is also organizing a social network that will help keep seniors included in the community.
At its March 22 annual general meeting the committee re-elected four of its five executive and five of its directors. Although Whistler has an active seniors ski team, along with exercise classes and a bridge club, Leidal said the group is looking forward to two housing projects expected to open in 2009 that will provide for approximately 62 units for seniors. As well, the 2010 athletes village not only will provide housing units but will have a seniors centre, a gathering social spot.
“It’s really encouraging that somebody is doing something,” said the woman who moves to Vancouver Island on April 15. “And maybe at some point if they get something happening here I could move back.”
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