Clear message

Kudos to the Seniors and Law Enforcement Together (S.A.L.T.) and its subcommittee, the Assisted Living Action Group, for their informative presentation to council Monday night as part of the town’s call for input into its 2011 strategic plan.
While their main focus rests on what they see as a growing need for assisted living units here, it’s clear our aging population has many ramifications the town must tackle in the coming years—everything from housing and recreation to transportation, accessibility, and a myriad of others.
Calling it a tsunami that is sweeping right across Canada, S.A.L.T. co-chair Robert Schulz was right in noting “all levels of government are unprepared for [the] health and socials costs on this matter.”
The demographics certainly suggest Fort Frances is rapidly becoming a retirement community. According to the 2006 census, almost one-fifth of local residents were over age 65 while well over a third topped age 50—figures sure to be even higher here in 2011. And while the paper industry may roar back, coupled with promising mining projects in the district down the road, this “greying” trend simply cannot be ignored.
But if our aging population presents challenges, it offers opportunities, as well. Opportunities for private enterprise to meet the demand for assisted living, and businesses catering to seniors’ needs and consumption patterns. For its part, the town can follow the lead of places like Elliot Lake and market us as great place to retire, particularly among those who grew up in Fort Frances but then moved away to pursue a career.
The last thing we need to see is seniors moving away because the care or services they require are not offered here.
Seniors’ needs must be addressed in the strategic plan—and S.A.L.T. is to be commended for making that message loud and clear.