Comprehensive Age-Friendly Community Planning Framework
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Planners, urban designers and policy-makers are continuously shifting their planning approach to accommodate the latest planning lens. Each approach addresses different planning issues, presents new concepts and sets new priorities; however, little attention is given to determine whether these ideas overlap and whether there are efficiencies in tying these concepts together. This study sought to determine to what extent age-friendly community planning overlaps or is similar to established planning frameworks and evaluate whether there is merit in developing joint policies. Age-friendly communities (AFC) have become particularly important today with the aging baby-boom generation and the resulting increase in demand for supportive and enabling physical and social environments that help compensate for the physical and cognitive changes associated with ageing (World Health Organization, 2007). Despite the growth of this movement, planners and policy makers have been faced with a number of challenges with integrating age-friendly initiatives into mainstream planning due to the lack of differentiation from other well-known planning frameworks and the competing demands for financial resources and human capital (Miller et al., 2011; Cerda & Bernier, 2013; Golant, 2014). These challenges raise the following research questions: 1) To what extent do established planning principles overlap with age-friendly community planning principles? 2) Is there value in working towards a unified planning framework that incorporates age-friendly community planning principles and established planning principles? These research questions were addressed using a multi-phased qualitative approach, which entailed: a policy document analysis using the City of Waterloo as a case study and in-depth interviews with planning professionals from across Ontario. This study revealed that there is an overlap and similarities between age-friendly community planning and established planning frameworks, specifically: accessibility planning, Smart Growth, transit-oriented development, universal design, healthy communities, sustainable communities, New Urbanism and complete communities. The planning professionals viewed this overlap as policy alignment as these policies support and reinforce each other. Alternatively, several planners suggested that AFC should be regarded as a subset of other planning frameworks, rather than its own distinct planning approach. As such, planners would look at all their planning decisions, regardless of the planning framework, through an age-friendly lens. Despite the overlap, most planning professionals were cautious about creating a comprehensive planning approach due to the: sheer size of the approach, diversity of community contexts, challenges associated with public participation and difficulties coordinating the various stakeholders and jurisdictions. A number of supplementary findings were uncovered through the in-depth interviews that provided key insight into the strengths and weaknesses of current age-friendly community planning initiatives across Ontario and lay the foundation for this study’s policy recommendations. This study recommends: 1) providing additional funding for the implementation of AFC plans; 2) offering additional resources for small and remote communities; 3) expanding existing AFC resources; 4) mandating AFC policies into provincial legislation; 5) facilitating communication and coordination between the lower tier and upper tier municipalities; and 6) seeking greater involvement from planners in AFC initiatives.
Cite this work
Catherine McLean (2017). Comprehensive Age-Friendly Community Planning Framework. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/12274