A new organization has formed to better serve seniors in the Alberni Valley.
The Alberni Valley Seniors’ Services Sector Cooperative intends to collect community-based groups, agencies, organizations and businesses that provide goods and services to seniors in the Alberni Valley, spokesperson Barb Stevenson explained. The sector has already registered as a non-profit organization and will soon be a registered charity.
There are advantages of having a sector such as this, she says: it allows for collaborative decision-making, enables members to participate equally, and provides a way to apply for funding on a greater level.
Governments in Canada are turning toward sector funding as a way to address more global needs. It’s a way to share greater pieces of the pie instead of handing out crumbs.
The idea for the seniors’ sector came out of a 2017 provincial project called Raising the Profile, which highlighted the needs of seniors in communities across British Columbia.
The process identified five key priorities for seniors in the Alberni Valley: poverty; advocacy and access to information and services; health and wellness, including physical and social well-being; affordable, accessible housing; and transportation, including non-scheduled travel to and from Port Alberni.
Poverty and homelessness came out as the top priority, but there is already assistance for housing issues. Officials decided to look at the second more important issue facing seniors: transportation.
Scheduled transportation falls under the auspices of BC Transit. Unscheduled transportation in the form of a shuttle could fill in the gaps around BC Transit and HandyDart bus services, Stevenson explained.
For instance, trips to Oceanside for medical appointments, or north to the Comox Valley or Campbell River hospitals for specialist appointments. Wheels for Wellness cannot accommodate such trips.
Better at Home, another service for seniors, supplements seniors with taxi vouchers, and the AVSSSC could possibly take that on. Better yet, they would like to purchase a small passenger van for the shuttle service.
This is just one example of what the cooperative can do to serve the broader community, Stevenson said.
Still in its infancy, she said there is potential for the sector to grow in the coming years—important years as baby boomers transition to seniors.
‘The AVSSSC is about establishing relationships and framing out our potential,” Stevenson said.
For more information on the AVSSSC, please call 778-419-2233, e-mail AVservicesector@shaw.ca or go online to www.avsssc.org.