Province Announces Grant Programs to Promote Accessibility and Age-Friendly Planning

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The Ontario Government is actively advancing its vision to make Ontario a world leader in both accessibility and age-friendly community planning.


In 2005, the Province enacted the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, which introduces responsibilities for both the private and public sectors to make Ontario accessible by 2025. The intent of the Act is to ensure that people of all ability levels are able to fully participate in the activities of everyday life. Implementing the Act will mean that businesses and organizations in a variety of different sectors will need to make changes to many dimensions of their business: their approach to customer service, the design of public spaces, and the way that information and communications are provided, for example.

There is a fundamental demographic change occurring, and it has created an urgent need to reconsider the way we plan communities. The number of seniors in Ontario is projected to double by 2036. An age-friendly community is one that enables seniors to participate in all aspects of life, in part through the reduction of physical barriers, as well as improving accessibility in the way information is communicated. Some municipalities have already advanced local age-friendly strategic plans or action plans, while others have not yet moved ahead with specific age-friendly planning initiatives.

Two recent grant programs have been introduced to address these critical planning issues:

  • The EnAbling Change Program makes grants available to not-for-profit organizations for undertaking educational and awareness campaigns or programs that will educate organizations and businesses about their obligations under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).
  • The Age-Friendly Community Planning Grant Program is being introduced to provide grants to municipalities, other local government bodies, and not-for-profit sectors to advance strategic age-friendly plans. It is intended that local strategic plans prepared with the support of the grant must support one or more of the dimensions of age-friendly community, as outlined by the World Health Organization (see http://www.who.int/ageing/publications/Global_age_friendly_cities_Guide_English.pdf).

An important aspect of implementing the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, in addition to creating age-friendly communities, is the need to eliminate physical barriers. In this regard, there is an intrinsic linkage between accessibility, age-friendly community planning, and community planning projects (Official Plans, Zoning By-laws, Site Plan control processes and Community Improvement Plans, for example). Planning policy, zoning, and development guidelines represent a critical opportunity to implement accessibility and age-friendly planning principles. Municipalities should consider the possibility of reviewing planning policy, zoning, and Community Improvement Plans in relation to these principles. These planning studies could be actions identified under a Local Age-Friendly Action Plan which is eligible for funding under the Province’s Age-Friendly Community Planning Grant.

 

Enabling Change Program Age-Friendly Community Planning Grant
Who can apply? Incorporated, not-for-profit organizations Local government, including municipalities; social services boards; First Nations; and not-for-profit, incorporated community organizations
What types of programs or projects are eligible? Large-scale projects with a Provincial impact, such as awareness campaigns, educational workshops, or other similar creative projects Strategic planning projects that focus on seniors, leading to the development of local aging plans
What is not eligible? Building renovations or costs to meet AODA requirements Building renovations or costs to meet AODA requirements
When is the deadline for applying? January 30, 2015 at 5 pm January 30, 2015 at 5 pm
How do I apply? Applicants must register and apply through Grants Ontario Applicants must register and apply through Grants Ontario
Where can I find more information? An overview of the program is available here
Detailed program application guidelines are available here
An overview of the program is available here
Detailed program application guidelines are available here

 

If your municipality has not yet considered advancing an age-friendly community plan, now is the time to make an application for funding. As Ontario’s population continues to age, the communities that are designed and known to be age-friendly and accessible will be better able to cater to the changing needs. This may prove to be a competitive advantage, in addition to improving the quality of life for existing seniors and persons with disabilities who already live in the community.