Brampton is a city with a sharp dichotomy. It’s obvious just from strolling around the city that there is a major senior population. Yet at the same time, Statistics Canada and the municipal government says Brampton, on average, has the youngest population in the country.
So it seems smart that the city set up an “Age Friendly” citizen advisory committee to advise staff and council of issues that affect both the youngest and oldest members of the city.
But in reality, based on the issues that are consistently being raised at this committee, it should be renamed the “Senior Citizens Committee.”
There is a combination of six voting and non-voting members of that committee that are youth. But there are more (eight) members who are either senior or represent an agency dedicated to senior issues.
A breakdown of the five meetings the committee has had since September 2017 reveals that:
- Items specifically related to seniors: 10
- Items related to the general population: 2
- Items specifically related to youth: 1
The one youth-specific item above is from a member of the public gallery asking about a youth-issue specific sub-committee, only to be told “that youth are represented at the Age-Friendly Brampton Advisory Committee and a youth sub-committee at this time would be premature.”
I’m not sure how the other members of that committee thought the status quo properly reflected youth representation considering the seemingly one-sided nature of the committee. At that same meeting in November, every single item on the agenda was aimed at senior citizen issues (senior demographics in the GTA, elder abuse, and development of an age-friendly strategy).
The committee discusses the World Health Organization’s Age-Friendly World idea at almost every meeting, which specifies that the idea is specifically for “concrete actions to make communities better places to grow old.” Burlington’s Age Friendly Council, which is name dropped by Brampton’s, references the above. Typing “age-friendly community” in Google shows that these policies are focused on senior citizens.
While youth will eventually need the support to “age in place” in the city, for them it’s a prospect 40 or 50 years down the road.
There are many issues in Brampton that affect both youth and seniors together, from transit to recreation. Council seems to have been inspired by Gil Penalosa’s “8-80” city ideal of a community that designed for everyone. It appears that despite how often Penalosa is mentioned by the committee, they don’t focus on finding solutions for everyone “8-80”, and are almost totally focused on a single demographic in the city. It is an insult to the concept of making a city for everyone.
Senior issues are important, but in a city that statistics show is a very young city, it seems unwise to focus on senior issues at the expense of everyone else.