Seniors’ population will more than double in Langley Township

It is important to build homes that meet seniors' needs and allow them to remain independent, council told.

Between 2007 and 2027, Langley’s population of residents aged 65 and up will soar by 136 per cent.

Five years ago, there were 16,112 people in that age group, and by 2017 there will by 38,143.

The number of residents aged 80 and over will continue to climb substantially as well during that span. According to CARP, there were 5,127 in 2007, and by 2027 that number will have jumped by 84.4 per cent, to almost 9,500.

Their growing numbers make it imperative for Langley to have homes equipped to meet their needs, Joe Zaccaria told Township council on Monday.

Zaccaria, the vice-chairman of CARP’s South Fraser chapter, told council that living conditions have a direct impact on seniors’ mental and physical health and well-being.

“Access and affordable housing play a central role in determining seniors’ physical and financial security, as well as their independence,” Zaccaria said.

Increasing numbers of seniors are choosing to live alone, and are able to due to good health, access to health care, community support, and financial independence.

If housing, such as that proposed by Leo Mitrunen for 17 acres in the 7700 block of 200 Street, is not going to be set aside specifically for seniors, it must meet provincial and federal guidelines for safety, accessibility and independence, he said.

“Seniors housing has to be more than simply low cost. It must also reduce falling hazards, support intergenerational living and provide aging in place with independence,” Zaccaria said.

Mitrunen found that catering only to a 55-plus age group is too restrictive and will hinder the successful development of his property.

If council agrees to lift the restriction, the term ‘senior’ may have to go, too.

According to Coldwell Banker Westburn Realty, the firm presenting Mitrunen Development Corp., the word had negative connotation.

Some local governments have already begun to banish ‘senior’ from land use plans, choosing ‘older adults’ or ‘elders’ instead.