It’s age-friendly here in Cobble Hill

With more than 16,000 seniors living in the Cowichan Valley, it’s essential that communities take those 65 and older into account.

Cobble Hill marked a milestone Monday as Michelle Stilwell, provincial parliamentary secretary for Healthy Living and Seniors announced that the village is one of only eight communities across B.C. to be recognized in 2014 as age-friendly.

"We’re all aging, we’re all going to be seniors one day and that’s my focus is to ensure that there’s always a plan and a future for seniors," Stilwell told a big crowd of seniors gathered for Cobble Hill’s monthly seniors luncheon at the Cobble Hill hall.

"Seniors are the cornerstone of our families and our communities." With the recognition comes a $1,000 grant that can be used for a celebration or a legacy project and a poster that will be hung at the hall.

To be recognized Cobble Hill had to take four steps: form an advisory committee, get local council/board approval, do an age assessment and develop and publish an action plan.

"I want all B.C. to remain active and healthy as long as they can," said Stilwell in explaining the importance of the project.

Cobble Hill Area Director Gerry Giles and Cowichan Valley Regional District Chair Rob Hutchins were thrilled to accept the recognition.

Giles pointed out that the community luncheons started as part of the four steps, as politicians aimed to find out what seniors needed.

There were about eight people at the first one, Giles said, and they now boast about 80 regular attendees, as one of the main things they found was that seniors needed was to have more social outlets.

Hutchins pointed out that Cobble Hill is the first area in the Valley to be recognized, but with more than 20 per cent of the population over 65 years old, other communities should follow.