Wellesley residents are getting older, and as the senior citizen population grows, so does the need for support services, says the director of an agency that serves older residents.
Cathy Harrington, executive director of Community Care Concepts, is looking for the township to continue to help fund its work, making her case to councillors meeting Tuesday night.
The volunteer-driven organization focuses on five aspects of healthy aging, while providing rides, meals and interaction for their clients, who are mostly seniors, allowing them to live independently.
The senior population is set to grow significantly in the next 25 years. Harrington pointed out that the township’s community parks and recreation strategic plan says the Wellesley population over the age of 70 will increase by 96 per cent by 2031.
“You see the steady increase in terms of services that are required. If you take a look at the tail end of 2013-2014, that is when we launched our service support workers and exercise programs. With these two programs being offered in a variety of communities and locations, what it did was significantly drive up the demand for our other services,” said Harrington. “As an example, this past year, we provided over 2,000 rides in the township, we delivered just shy of 2,800 meals, we have 1,900 visitors in our exercise programs and we had over 1,500 home visits. There is considerable growth there. There is no shortage of work.”
In 2011, the organization provided fewer than 4,000 rides and meals.
The number of township residents served by CCC has increased from around 200 in 2011 to more than 650 in 2015. In 2013, township council voted to reduce their contribution to CCC by $300, giving the organization $1,200 for the past three years. Harrington was in Wellesley requesting the same amount this year.
Mayor Joe Nowak, however, said he didn’t think the amount they were asking for was enough.
“We’re only looking at $1,200. In my opinion, I think we can do better with these services,” he said.
Coun. Herb Neher was certain something could be done, down to asking Nowak to bring it up at the next regional council meeting, or a meeting of the rural mayors.
“You get no money at all from the region, but we are all paying taxes to the region. I am wondering if it is possible for the rural mayors to get together and take it to the region. Even if it is a pittance,” he said. “I am surprised. These are excellent services that you are providing here and with the aging population, I am wondering why, if the region kicks in on city services, why they can’t give a nominal amount to our residents.”
Other agencies originally scheduled to speak to council on Tuesday evening weren’t in attendance, and Nowak put forth a friendly amendment to defer a decision on the donation until the other organizations could ask for their funding. Both the Wilmot Family Resource Centre and the Woolwich Counselling Centre were set to ask for $5,000 each.
The organizations, along with CCC, work together in some cases to avoid overlapping services and to remove gaps in care.
“We would always welcome more money, but certainly wouldn’t want to do that at the expense of the other core services that are funded,” said Harrington.
Council agreed to defer a decision until all organizations could be heard from early next month.