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Planning and consultations

Older adult plan - Overview

Older Adult Plan

According to the 2011 census, there are 116,600 seniors (65+) living in Ottawa, making up 13.2% of the population. It is expected that the number of seniors living in Ottawa will more than double over the next 20 years, to a projected 250,000 individuals. By 2031, more than one in five residents in Ottawa will be over 65.

Like many other large municipalities in Canada and around the world, the City of Ottawa is responding to these demographic changes and taking action to make Ottawa a more age-friendly city.

On October 28, 2015, City Council approved the Older Adult Plan 2015-2018, which supports a long-term vision for our community that values, empowers, and supports older persons and their quality of life. The Plan contains 51 actions to address the needs of Ottawa's older residents and is organized under eight age-friendly areas:

  • Outdoor spaces and City buildings 
  • Transportation and mobility 
  • Housing
  • Communication and information 
  • Social, recreational, and cultural participation 
  • Civic participation and volunteering
  • Community supports and health services 
  • Respect and social inclusion 

The Plan builds on the accomplishments of the Older Adult Plan 2012-2014. 


The Older Adult Plan represents the product of extensive background research and consultations with Ottawa older adults.

For more information about the Older Adult Plan or to obtain reports summarizing the research, demographic analysis and consultation findings, please email

Older Adult Plan [ PDF - 3.1 MB ].


Outdoor Spaces and City Buildings

  • 18 City Facilities with high older adult traffic were retrofitted with additional automatic door openers and washroom grab bars. Retrofitted the Carlingwood library. • Updated and implemented the City’s Accessibility Design standards. Three new sections have been added since: Accessibility during Construction, Transit Stops and Shelter Design (see OAP Action 2.3), and Housing Visitability. 
  • 34 additional benches have been purchased and/or installed in areas of the city with high concentrations of seniors. 
  • 12 additional intersections were installed with Pedestrian Signal Technology. Public Works has committed to installing 2 pedestrian signals each year using existing funding. A one-page information sheet was created to promote the safe use of pedestrian signal technology. 
  • The Pedestrian Safety Evaluation Program was developed to prioritize and program pedestrian related road safety improvements to signalized and non-signalized intersections within the City of Ottawa. 
  • A new Sidewalk Hazard Report Form was developed for older adults to report deficiencies in sidewalk conditions to the Road Services Branch. Deficiencies reported through this new form will be prioritized whenever possible. 
  • 55 additional Yellow Grit Boxes were implemented in areas of the city with high concentrations of seniors. 
  • A checklist for Age Friendly Parks, Pathways and Public Spaces was developed and included as an appendix in the Park & Pathway Development Manual and posted on 


  • Changes in seniors’ fares were made in 2012 to make transportation more affordable for older adults, such as continued free-ride Wednesdays for persons 65+ and removal of the top-up needed for Para-Transpo users 65+ after 9am. • Age-friendly guidelines for the design and placement of bus stops and shelters were developed and will be reviewed for inclusion in the City of Ottawa Accessibility Design Standards. 
  • An operational review was completed regarding snow removal around bus shelters. New communication arrangements were made between Public Works and Transit Services to streamline snow removal around bus shelters. 
  • A technology review (to inform Para Transpo clients of their vehicle’s approximate arrival time) was completed and options are being reviewed by Transit Services staff. 
  • Consultation and a procedural review (related to advance booking) was completed and findings were reported to the Transit Commission and Council. 
  • 5 additional seniors’ agencies are now offering the travel training program. 
  • Funding for the Taxi Coupon Program was increased to $250,000 and approved by Transit Commission and Council in 2013. Information on changes to program was promoted at over 30 outreach events. 
  • An updated cycling map is in development in partnership with the NCC, City of Gatineau, Ottawa Tourism and Tourism Outaouais and will include the availability of Older Adult amenities such as washrooms. 
  • 12 awareness events on pathway etiquette and sidewalk cycling were held. A pathway etiquette sign was designed and was installed in 55 locations around the city. 
  • 200 Older adults attended a safety event called “Shifting Gears” held in September 2014.The event included presentations by the Ottawa Police, CAA, the Council on Aging, OC Transpo, the Ottawa Hospital and a local pharmacist. 


  • Over 80 stakeholders attended an Affordable Housing Roundtable held in partnership with CMHC in November 2014.
  • 55 seniors and 19 seniors with disabilities have been assisted through the Ontario Renovates program to make renovations to their homes to increase accessibility. 
  • Software has been purchased and implemented to track data related to repair needs within social housing buildings. 
  • Information on accessibility has been distributed and will continue to be shared with all Domiciliary Hostel operators. 
  • Domiciliary Hostel standards are being reviewed to ensure alignment with the new provincial standards and will be presented to Council for approval in Q1 2015. 
  • 12 educational training sessions have been provided to staff to increase awareness of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered older adults by The Ottawa Senior Pride Network. A poster project within the City’s Long Term Care Homes has been instituted, and regular agenda items at general staff meetings and Departmental meetings and been implemented. 
  • A survey on the needs of older adults who use emergency shelters was conducted.

Communication and Information

  • Over 800 older residents attended 7 Meet Your City Services events.
  • 2,500 hits per month are received on an older adult portal on which to serves as a central source of information 
  • 800 subscribers have received 25 newsletters about City of Ottawa programs, services, and events of interest to older adults through an older adult email distribution list. 
  • 6,500 copies of a City of Ottawa Guide to Services and Programs for Older Adults were created and distributed.
  • Developed a one pager on City Services for older adults living on a low income and distributed through City staff
  • Launched a new web application called JoinOttawa that provides a single location where older adults can view all recreation and leisure activities and programs provided by Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Services, Ottawa Public Library, and seniors centres
  • Launched a new Volunteer Portal on that provides older adults with a friendly way to search and select volunteering opportunities 
  • Piloted three satellite Client Service Centres (at two libraries and one recreation facility) that offered in-person and self-service access to information and services 
  • Prepared and launched updated knowledge articles and FAQs for client-facing 311 and Client Services Branch to assist older adults with searching on the web and applying for recreation and leisure activities and volunteer opportunities
  • Included an older adults lens in the corporate communication plan template 

Social, Recreation, and Cultural Participation

  • 6 Ottawa Community Housing Aging in Place buildings and 31 community sites hosted Better Strength Better Balance prevention program sessions. In 2014, close to 700 older adults benefited from the Better Strength Better Balance workshops and provided a 97% satisfaction rate with the sessions. 
  • 1,111 older adults participated in a computer literacy and internet safety curriculum for older adults developed by the Ottawa Public Library. 5 additional laptops and 4 desktop computers were installed at 3 City-operated seniors’ centres and 3 community centres.
  • 20 part-time Parks Recreation and Culture staff completed a 2 day older adult certification course offered by the Canadian Centre for Activity and Aging. One participant has been identified to participate in the Train the Trainer program to create further capacity within Parks Recreation and Culture staff. 
  • 4 editions of a social, recreational, and cultural activity guides targeting older adults (totalling 56,000 copies), were printed and distributed.

Civic Participation and Volunteering

  • Developed a pamphlet to encourage volunteering among retiring City employees. The Learning Centre provides the pamphlets in the City of Ottawa employee retirement package at retirement planning sessions. 
  • Volunteer opportunities have been promoted at corporate Meet Your City Services events, volunteer fairs at library branches, and through the older adult email distribution list. 
  • A revised volunteer services website was developed and launched in December 2013. Changes to the website include an upgraded search function, and an online application. 
  • A Volunteer Recognition Program was developed and approved for Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services. 
  • A survey of City of Ottawa older volunteers was conducted to determine the specific volunteer interests of this group of volunteers. Survey results were shared with all volunteer coordinators. 
  • Developed public engagement guidelines that include specific considerations for engaging with older adults (based on consultation findings and a focus group with older adults). 

Community Support and Health Services

  • 443 households were served as part of the Snow Go Assist program in the winter of 2013-2014. 266 households participated in the Snow Go program which is an increase of 4.3% over 2012-2013 participation. 
  • 49 recipients were recognized as Snow Angels with a recognition event held in November 2014.
  • 5 additional community locations for Ottawa Public Health (OPH) programming were established.
  • A caregiver forum was held in 2012 and a Caregiver Resource Guide and e-learning module were developed.
  • 525 older adults participated, at 5 locations, in a new CPR training program (and train-the-trainer program) specifically designed for older adults 
  • 1,321 low income and vulnerable older adults have received free dental screening from Ottawa Public Health, Dental Services. Ottawa Public Health also provided 279 denture cleanings and 506 fluoride varnish applications in the community free of charge. 396 low income and vulnerable older adults also received free urgent dental care. 
  • 2,947 community members were trained to identify isolated older adults through the Community Connect program. Of that, 1620 were City staff, members of Ottawa Public Health and Fire Fighters. The Community Connect Program has received 349 referrals with 54% of referrals being for residents 65+. 
  • An older adult “well-being” screening tool was developed, in collaboration with various City departments, for use by staff who see clients in their homes to identify issues of concern and refer for additional supports; training of key staff will take place in March 2015 for implementation to begin May 1, 2015. 
  • A pilot program was developed to provide regular home visits by Paramedics to residents who made frequent calls for assistance. Program ended in September 2013 due to funding cuts by the LHIN. 
  • The process for applications across Community and Social Services and Parks, Recreation, and Culture City programs has been simplified by utilizing a common ‘Low-Income Cut-off’ test for financial assistance programs. A pilot project has been completed and full implementation is pending for referrals to be made directly from Community and Social Support Centres to the Hand in Hand program when applicants financially qualify and request a referral. 

Respect and Social Inclusion

  • An Older Adult Staff Awareness Day was held on November 4, 2013 with approximately 100 City Managers and Supervisors attending. The event was designed to increase management’s awareness of Older Adult service issues as one step to improving client service satisfaction among older adults. 
  • The older adult terminology used across the corporation was reviewed and recommendations were endorsed by City Departments to harmonize terms and definitions.
  • Census data (2011) was reviewed and key highlights identified and summarized in various materials for distribution to City Departments.
  • A Seniors Roundtable was created to provide feed-back on the implementation of the Older Adult Plan and to bring forward priorities and issues for consideration.
  • A staff work group was created to coordinate the implementation of the Older Adult Plan and monitor emerging trends and issues.
  • Ottawa was designated as a member of the Global Network of Age Friendly Cities.

Seniors Summit

Mayor Jim Watson hosted a one day Seniors Summit at City Hall on October 3rd, 2011, in response to an election promise. Approximately 175 seniors participated in the event which featured a question and answer period with Mayor Watson, small group discussions, various presentations, and a resource fair of City services.

Mayor Watson also announced the application of the City of Ottawa to become a member of the World Health Organization Global Network of Age Friendly Cities.

The overall purpose of the Seniors Summit was to provide a forum for seniors and City of Ottawa elected officials and staff to discuss priority issues and practical solutions around key service areas important to seniors.

The input gathered at the Seniors Summit will be integrated into an Older Adult Action Plan currently being developed by the City of Ottawa.  

Summary from small group discussions

Seniors shared their personal experiences and provided suggestions for improvements around six key service categories. Below is a summary of the key priorities of participating seniors. This information will be used to inform the City’s Older Adult Plan, which is currently being developed. 


  • Better communication in and out:

    • 211 needs more exposure

    • Between departments

    • Clients + City

  • Information being shared outward to seniors

  • Use smaller buses on shorter routes and on routes with lower ridership numbers.

  • Increase public safety by expanding the time allocated to pedestrians at automated pedestrian crossings. The current amount of time allocated is insufficient to allow senior pedestrians to cross safely.

  • There needs to be further review and greater discussion and consultation on the bus route and bus service changes and we need to encourage more people, not discourage people from using public transit.

  • OC Transpo priority should be to increase ridership in existing service as opposed to cutting services.


  • Exclusive seniors-only buildings that encourage safety and security.

  • Increase assisted living, and associated supports, and long-term care facilities

  • More safe, affordable housing with supports, mixed types and structures.

  • Maintain current stock of social housing.

  • Support for couples where one has Alzheimer’s.

  • More support for people to live in community/congregate living arrangements with supports in the community.

  • Need for more assisted living rather than long-term care.

  • Coordinated housing strategy for seniors that remains balanced and includes:

    • Community support to be able to stay at home

    • Increased supply of affordable housing

    • Neighbourhoods designed to assist seniors to age in place

    • Financial supplements for seniors to allow them to stay in place 

  • That the City of Ottawa develop a comprehensive, inclusive and realistic plan to provide housing services based on French requirements for seniors.

Civic participation and volunteerism

  • Establish a mandate and policy (prioritized recommendations) and assign responsibility to a senior director in the City to direct City-wide volunteer program.

  • Develop a ‘certified volunteer program’ which would allow a seniors to volunteer anywhere in the city.

  • Update, simplify and implement the City’s Public Participation Policy of 2003.

  • City to facilitate training and access to computer skills.

  • City could provide better information on City volunteer opportunities.

  • Recognition and promotion of citizen participation and volunteer work at a young age in consideration of the challenges relating to multiculturalism.

  • City takes on volunteering as a value.

  • Creation of a volunteer card, which includes a timely police check.

  • Create a department for volunteers (not in Parks and Rec).

Community Support and Health Services

  • Equitable infrastructures and financing for Francophones and Anglophones.

  • Increase and provide French services for Francophone seniors and newcomers.

  • Single window managed by the City to provide services to Francophone seniors.

  • Equity – French vs. English.

  • Equity in terms of funding for Francophone seniors’ centres.

  • Connect with real estate agents, rental offices, faith groups, community newspapers, doctor’s offices, walk-in clinics, CCAC offices in shopping malls so they can distribute information about services to seniors (something like the Welcome Wagon programs).

  • Run local focus groups at seniors’ centres every year to follow-up and provide feed-back to the City on services and initiatives.

  • Improve individual access to a complex system:

    • Removing barriers

    • Computer training

    • Providing other options to access services other than the Internet

    • Removing equity & diversity barriers

    • Partnership with senior serving organizations

    • Integration of health providers

    • Learning sessions at local health centres

    • Continued consultations with seniors and senior organizations

    • Identify gaps

    • Better outreach

    • More case workers

    • More funding

  • More City services for seniors (more training, assessment, more home-based care).

  • Increased funding for isolation, staff and programs (for non-profit agencies) and lower cost for City-run programs.

  • City should advocate for a system of matching family physicians to patients who need primary physician.

  • Improved communication, access, service continuity and coordination of care between the City and community (non-profit/business) and establish key programs that include:

    • Seniors phone line

    • Seniors centres across the city – model Friendly Corner

    • Home support as required

    • Health promotion

  • City to take leadership to coordinate services and information to help seniors stay home.

  • Generate a more efficient service. Clearing house – One stop shop.

  • Bring back public health nurses program to work closely with seniors and follow up.

  • Improve communication with seniors. Need to know what City services are, what agencies, different levels of governments offer. One point of contact.

  • Create a department strictly for seniors (We have a children branch, why not a seniors branch?).

  • Communication, education and promotion of City services:

    • Information available on paper, brochures, pamphlets, community TV, radio and Internet

    • More access to seniors advisors

    • More ongoing contact with people

    • More education on 211 and 311

Social and Recreational Services

  • Accessing social and recreational programs depends on good transportation for seniors – during the day and on weekends.

  • Increase visibility and accessibility of recreation programs/centres and increase the number of programs available by:

    • Promoting “Hand in Hand”

    • Creative advertising or programs/centres

    • Publically funded space

    • Encouraging youth volunteers

  • Access to age-appropriate programs in senior-friendly facilities, with reasonable fees.

  • Find out information on programs and services without computers and registration in person.

  • Transportation to services easy and accessible.

  • Effective communication/promotion of programs and services – keep technology at present level, and increase/improve other means of communication (e.g. mail-out, flyers, telephone, etc).

  • Tiered pricing system for seniors, recreation programs based on income levels (subsidies?).

  • Similar to children’s recreation tax credit to promote healthy lifestyles and battle obesity.

  • Research shows increased activity in seniors has resulted in good health and therefore tax incentives can be used to assist low income seniors with accessibility to recreation programs.

Public Safety and Security 

  • Need more police presence in neighbourhoods (visible) and more communication between stakeholders and police. Increase police presence/patrols in strategic areas.

  • Improve street lighting.

  • Develop/expand neighborhood watch program to include/incorporate seniors.

  • Increase communication between stakeholders and police

Seniors summit consultation results

Overall, participating Ottawa older adults reported that Ottawa was age-friendly in terms of its size, environment and available activities. However, poor health, diminishing income and isolation were revealed to be elements that tested the limits of Ottawa’s age-friendliness. Older adults stressed the importance of accessible services and places to look after their health and well-being, and wanted easier ways to get information on what relevant programs and services were available. Furthermore, a number of participants stressed the need for more initiatives aimed at reducing social isolation. The City of Ottawa commissioned Nanos Research to conduct consultations with older adults in Ottawa as part of the Older Adult Plan. Part of the consultations was conducted in partnership with Age Friendly Ottawa. The consultations took place between October 3rd and December 2nd, 2011 among approximately 630 older adults and stakeholders in Ottawa.

The tasks for this research project were divided as follows: Nanos Research moderated and provided note-taking at nine public consultations targeting the general older adult population. Age Friendly Ottawa moderated 15 consultation sessions targeting specific groups of older adults and for which Nanos Research provided note-taking. The moderator’s guide was based on the World Health Organization (WHO)’s Global Age Friendly Cities protocol. The consultation was also comprised of online, telephone and paper surveys created in partnership between Nanos Research and the City of Ottawa. The survey questionnaire’s themes were drawn from the WHO framework.

The following is an overview of the findings from the Seniors Summit, consultation sessions and from the online, telephone and paper surveys that were also available during the consultation period.

Please note that the older adults who participated in the consultations are not a representative sample of the older adult population in Ottawa since they were not randomly selected.

For a copy of the complete report contact

Key Findings-all consultations 

Life in Ottawa as an Older Adult

For Seniors Summit and consultation survey participants (n=106), the most cited “perfect age-friendly” feature in Ottawa was “city-wide accessibility” (32.4% of all respondents), followed by “improved transportation services” (20.6%) and “social inclusion” (12.5%). Seniors Summit and consultation participants liked Ottawa’s size, environment and services such as public libraries, while many felt that transportation, social participation, streets and sidewalks, and access to housing should be improved.

Outdoor Spaces and Buildings

Seniors Summit and consultation participants had mainly positive comments about Ottawa’s outdoor opportunities – especially green spaces. However, maintenance and condition of sidewalks, barriers to accessing public buildings and the perceived lack of age-friendly features in parks and along pathways were the top barriers to an age-friendlier city. Of note, winter was mentioned as a prominent isolating factor.  


Seniors Summit and consultation participants’ views on public transportation were influenced by their health, location and level of income. Several older adults reported they had had good experiences with bus drivers and that they appreciated the ride-free days on OC Transpo. The top areas of concern were the cost of public transportation, as well as access to bus stops and to final destinations. Rural participants reported that they felt somewhat isolated due to the lack of bus routes in their areas. Likewise, parking was widely regarded as expensive, particularly at Ottawa’s hospitals.  


Most participants expressed the desire to live in their own home as long as possible as well as to remain in their communities, close to family and friends. Thus, there were positive comments with respect to services that allowed them to do so. However, when it came to the variety of options for moving out of the house, several concerns emerged in the consultations: lack of affordable, safe and well located rental units, small size of social housing units and lack of communication on services related to housing. 

Respect and Social Inclusion

Intergenerational respect took center stage in discussions related to respect during the consultations. Most participants had positive comments to make about how they are treated by younger people, and city buses were revealed to be one of the main social spaces where intergenerational interaction was occurring. Special groups (Francophones, immigrants, GLBTQ, rural residents) were especially sensitive to the notion of respect in terms of decision-makers responding to their own specificities and needs.

Social Participation

Seniors Summit and consultation participants reported that Ottawa offered a good variety of activities for older adults. Libraries, community/seniors’ centres and churches were seen as favourite places to socialize for many. Commonly-mentioned barriers to participation were the cost of activities and lack of communication channels to advertise available opportunities. A number of participants mentioned they would like to see more opportunities for continuing education and fitness programs. 

Communication and Information

Word of mouth and places such as libraries, community/seniors’ centres and churches were identified as typical information-sharing places by a number of consultation participants. Accordingly, isolated older adults lacking support (especially immigrants) were generally viewed as the group most likely to be missing out on relevant information. Likewise, the Internet was perceived as being relied on too much by the City and not age-friendly by many. However, a noticeable proportion of participants said that more programs should be created to teach older adults how to use the Internet and computers. 

Civic Participation and Paid/Unpaid Employment

When it came to volunteering opportunities, consultation participants perceived Ottawa to be a city that offered a vast array of possibilities. One of the main barriers identified was that the volunteer work schedules and level of effort were often too demanding because of the lack of volunteers. Personal cost incurred was also an important barrier with respect to volunteering. Reducing the difficult steps to get a volunteer position and creating opportunities for mentorships were two commonly-mentioned possible improvements in this area. 

Community Support and Health Services

A noticeable proportion of consultation participants had a good impression of community health centres and clinics, as well as home support services provided by Community Care Access Centres (CCAC) and community agencies. However, there was a general impression that there was a lack of coordination between elder care and support service providers, which made it hard to seek help – especially for isolated older adults. Other barriers included the cost of services, lack of services and caregiver support. 

Public Safety and Security

Participants in the Seniors Summit and consultations found that, in general, Ottawa is a safe city to live in, but that there is a need for more prevention among older adults and an improved lighting system in outdoor spaces. When asked to report their top positive experience with public safety and security services, survey respondents (n=106) answered “emergency services are quick and responsive” (13.2%) followed by “police there when needed” (8.5%) and “good prevention” (6.6%). Top areas of improvement were “addressing crime/safety issues” (10.4%), “better crime/safety prevention and communication” (10.4%) and “better street lighting” (7.5%). 

General Impressions

With a mean score of 5.7 out of 10, consultation survey respondents’ satisfaction with City of Ottawa services was average. Of note, only sixteen percent of consultation survey respondents rated their satisfaction as an 8, 9 or 10 on the ten-point satisfaction scale, which indicates that there is room for improvements in services targeting older adults. Similarly, consultation participants gave a mean middling score of 5.5 out of 10 when asked to rate the overall age-friendliness of Ottawa with regards to the eight themes covered in the discussions. Based on the feedback from all consultation platforms, areas that comparatively need more improvements are housing, community support and health services, and transportation.

Key Themes from Targeted Consultations

Aboriginal Community

Many participating members of the Aboriginal community shared similar concerns as with the mainstream consultations. Poor sidewalk conditions and a limited access to the public transportation system were thought to limit accessibility throughout the city. Another prominent theme that arose in discussions with members of the Aboriginal community was a lack of intergenerational respect and of communication between Aboriginal older adults and their service providers, particularly in terms of healthcare services. Access to affordable and safe housing was also revealed to be an issue of particular importance for participating older adults from this community.

Care Providers

Non-hired caregivers who participated in the consultations mentioned the lack of accessibility throughout the city, especially in terms of public buildings’ doors, public transportation, and housing. A major area of concern for this consultation group was the difficulty that older adults faced when trying to access information regarding available elder care services.

Multicultural Community

Older adults from multicultural backgrounds listed city-wide accessibility as a major area of concern. Noticeably, the difficulty to find affordable housing was a prominent issue in Ottawa that many found to affect their quality of life. Another important area of concern for this group was isolation; indeed, many participating older adults from multicultural communities wanted more avenues to have a social life within and outside of their communities and better communication strategies so that they get the information on practical and community-oriented topics. 

Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning (GLBTQ)

Members of the GLBTQ community were particularly concerned with social inclusion and isolation. Many felt that a combination of homophobic attitudes and social activities geared toward heterosexual, married people undermined their ability to be a part of the community at large, thus increasing the probability of GLBTQ older adults facing isolation. Having seniors’ homes better adapted for the GLBTQ community was viewed as a potentially good way to improve inclusion and limit isolation in old age for members of this community.


The consequences of living in the city with a lower income was a challenge to many participating older adults, particularly in terms of the costliness of medications, public transportation, and housing, which all affected their social participation. One of the most salient findings, therefore, was that this group had often limited social participation options and was consequently at greater risk of isolation.


A major area of concern for this consultation group was their desire to live their lives in French, whether when it came to accessing services or attending social and cultural events. French-speaking older adults living in West Ottawa found it particularly difficult to speak their first language and meet with other Francophones. Likewise, there was a general impression among participants from this group that there is a lack of equity between services available in French relative to English.

Services Providers and Business Community

Service providers and members of the business community emphasized the threat of isolation on older adults in the city of Ottawa. Many felt concerned toward the lack of accessibility in terms of transportation and public buildings, which play an integral role in the degree of participation of older adults. Housing was seen as an important issue by many in terms of costliness and of the lack of features adapted to older adults’ mobility and health challenges. In terms of the continuum of health and supportive services to older adults, many participants from this group asserted the need to have a concerted approach to service delivery and reduce barriers to accessing them. 

Older Adults with Disabilities

Accessibility throughout the city was a major concern for this consultation group. Many felt that because of their disability, they were limited in terms of housing and transportation options, and their ability to navigate throughout the city in public buildings and outdoor spaces.

Rural residents

The main challenges raised in this group were mostly related to isolation. Many participating older rural residents mentioned that there was a lack of affordable venues to rent for social gathering, limited options in terms of seniors’ homes, and limited access to public transportation. Noticeably, however, many participants stressed that they especially enjoyed the community feel of smaller towns while being close to the city.

Key Insights

Ottawa’s Age-Friendliness

Ottawa’s most age-friendly attributes, as chosen by consultation participants, included green spaces, good public libraries and a wealth of activities (seniors’ centres, museums, groups oriented toward older adults) available for older adults.

Limits of Ottawa’s Age-Friendliness

Faced with health and mobility issues and a sudden decrease in income, access to these and other services was a challenge for many participants, and led to concern over growing isolation.

Most Frequently Cited Ideas for Improvements Provided by Participants

The following is a list of the most frequently cited ideas for improvement cited by participants across all consultation sessions. Detailed lists of ideas can be found at the end of Chapters 3 to 11.

Outdoor spaces and buildings

  • Regularly repair cracks and holes in sidewalks. 

  • Public buildings: Invest in and maintain doors that open automatically or by pushing a button. 

  • Install more public benches and washrooms along main roads and in parks.

Transportation and mobility

  • Add more routes to cover rural areas and parts of the City with fewer transportation links to popular destinations. Ensure bus routes end directly in front of buildings such as shopping malls, hospitals, etc. 

  • Standardize cost of use of Para Transpo – do not change fares based on location. 

  • Eliminate or reduce cost of parking at hospitals and clinics. Increase designated parking spaces for spaces for older adults at public buildings. 

  • Invest in bigger, more visible street signs and traffic lights. 

  • Increase the allotted time for crossing intersections.

Respect and social inclusion

  •  Improve on perceived lack of older-adult activities for men relative to women at community centres.


  • Construct more affordable, public/social housing for older adults – reduce waiting times for social housing. 

  • Plan for greater variety of older-adult housing: in more areas around Ottawa, better mix of rental and owned, with facilities designed or adapted to meet needs of residents with disabilities and limited mobility. 

  • Develop a plan for more effectively communicating information to older adults on home-retrofitting programs, assistance with moving to seniors’ housing or long-term care homes.

Social participation

  • Look at ways to make participating in activities and events more affordable for older adults. 

  • Ensure continued financial support for community centres and seniors’ centres.

Communication and information

  •  Make use of all communication channels ? telephone, radio, television, pamphlets, door-to-door and Internet ? not all older adults have access to a computer. 

  • Develop Internet and computer skills classes for older adults across Ottawa.

Civic participation and paid/unpaid employment 

  • Develop mentorship programs for older adults to share experience from their working life. 

  • Reduce/simplify paperwork associated with applying to volunteer.

Community support and health services

  • Alleviate the “silo” structure of elder care by making sure that older adults receive the continuum of care they need across community, City and provincially-funded and provided health services.

Public safety and security

 Make sure the streets, parks and parking lots are well-lit at night. 
Reinforce surveillance at intersections and enforce rules of the road. 

Seniors roundtable

The Seniors Roundtable was created in 2012 to provide feed-back to City staff on the implementation of the City of Ottawa Older Adult Plan (OAP) 2012-2014. The Seniors Roundtable will also be a primary mechanism for engaging residents on issues affecting older adults. As outlined in the Terms of Reference, the members of the Seniors Roundtable:

  • Receive progress reports and provide comments on the status of the implementation of the Older Adult Plan;
  • Act as a forum for City of Ottawa staff to seek input related to emerging issues of concern to older adults, as well as corporate programs, services or infrastructure; and
  • Identify and share emerging issues of concern to older adults.

In 2016, a newly constituted Seniors Roundtable, co-chaired by Councillor Diane Deans and Clara Freire, Manager, Partner and Stakeholder Initiatives, Community and Social Services Department will begin meeting to discuss the implementation of the 2015-2018 Older Adult Plan. The membership of the Seniors Roundtable includes older adults who represent various community agencies and meets on a quarterly basis. Minutes from past Seniors Roundtable meetings are posted below.

  • Wednesday, March 2, 2016
  • Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Seniors Roundtable - Wednesday, March 2, 2016

2:00-4:00 pm

City Hall – Councillors Lounge


  • To welcome members to the Seniors Roundtable 2016-2018
  • To provide overview of the Older Adult Plan 2015-2018
  • To review and adopt the Seniors Roundtable Terms of Reference
  • To discuss the implementation of Older Adult Plan actions for 2015

Mayor Jim Watson attended the first portion of the meeting and welcomed members to the inaugural meeting of the Seniors Roundtable and thanked them for their participation.

Co-Chair Councillor Diane Deans provided opening remarks, including a brief overview of the accomplishments of the first Older Adult Plan,  re-affirmed Council’s commitment to the Older Adult Plan and to making improvements to services/infrastructure for older adults and indicated that she is looking forward to working with the Seniors Roundtable over this term of Council.

Co-Chair Clara Freire began the meeting by inviting each member to share “what an age-friendly city means to you” as part of the roundtable introductions.

Review and adoption of Seniors Roundtable Terms of Reference

The Terms of Reference for the Seniors Roundtable were reviewed by the group.  The primary role of the Seniors Roundtable is to review and provide feed-back on the implementation of actions contained in the Older Adult Plan.  Additional roles include:

  • Act as the City’s primary mechanism to engage and consult with older residents on programs, services and infrastructure.
  • Identify and share emerging issues of concern to older adults; and
  • Provide feed-back on the draft version of the OAP 2019-2022.

Members proposed minor changes to the Terms of Reference.  The Terms of Reference were approved by the group (with the changes as proposed by members).  The final Terms of Reference will be circulated to members.

Members agreed to have their personal emails on a membership list to be shared with all Roundtable members. This will facilitate the sharing of information among members. 

Introduction to the City of Ottawa Older Adult Plan

An overview of the Older Adult Plan was provided.  The following points were emphasized:

  • The Older Adult Plan 2015-2018 was adopted by City Council in October 2015.  It contains 51 concrete actions (within the City mandate) organized under eight strategic areas.
  • The Plan is based on research and consultation with Ottawa older adults, and input from City departments and staff;
  • The Older Adult Plan represents a strategic initiative in the current Term of Council priorities (2015-2018);
  • City Council approved $500K in the operational budget to implement initiatives contained in the plan;

The overview presentation will be circulated to members.

Older Adult Plan 2015 Progress Report

A short presentation was made on the 2015 Progress Report that was distributed to members as part of their meeting package.

The following points were noted:

  • 2015 was a transition year because the Older Adult Plan was not adopted until October.
  • 2015 OAP funding was allocated to 16 initiatives that aligned with the OAP long-term goals or that further advanced the work of the OAP 2012-2014.
  • The next progress report will present progress on the 51 actions contained in the Older Adult Plan 2015-2018.

Roundtable members had the opportunity to ask questions and provide feed-back on the 2015 Progress Report as provided by staff.  Staff will follow-up with relevant Departments regarding specific request for information. 

Questions received at this meeting were:

  • Is it possible to receive the meeting package with the Progress Report two weeks prior to the Seniors Roundtable meeting to allow time for review and consultation with respective agencies or groups?
  • Was the Ontario Renovates program part of the reductions that the Provincial Government announced as part of their budget announcement?
  • What is the process that is followed to change crossing times at intersections?  How much does the crossing time get increased by?
  • The language spoken by ParaTranspo drivers can be a barrier for some Francophone riders. Does Para Transpo ask clients what languages they would like their driver to speak and is this taken into consideration at the time of booking?
  • What is the new rule for drivers to stop when there is a pedestrian on the street?

Members were informed that the progress reports will not be reviewed in detail at Seniors Roundtable meeting due to time constraints.  Members will be invited to review the reports prior to the meeting and bring questions to the meeting. 

The next progress report will cover the period between January 1 and March 31, 2016. 

Age Friendly Ottawa Introduction and Update

Maureen Forsythe, Director of Age Friendly Ottawa (AFO), provided an overview of the work of AFO and emphasized the partnership between the Council on Aging and the City of Ottawa.

The AFO presentation will be circulated to members.

Agenda Outline for Future Meetings

Future agendas will include the following standing items:

  • Older Adult Plan Progress Report
  • Older Adult Plan Action Spotlight and Discussion.  One City Department will be invited to present on an initiative of the OAP or City Staff will use this agenda item to consult with the Roundtable on corporate and departmental programs, services, infrastructure; 
  • Roundtable – Emerging Seniors Issues linked to City Services – Members will be asked to email issues prior to meetings to allow City staff to prepare information or responses. 
  • Presentation by a Seniors Roundtable member – Time permitting, SR members will have the opportunity to present about their agency
  • Age Friendly Ottawa Update

Additional discussion points:

  • Roundtable members requested for the meeting agenda (and other materials) to be sent as early as possible so that they may discuss with their respective organizations.
  • Meeting minutes will be shared with the Chairs of the City of Ottawa Advisory Committees
  • The Accessibility Advisory Committee representative (Adele Furrie) will provide regular updates to the Seniors Roundtable.
  • At the next meeting, we will have a presentation and discussion on the OAP action 1.7: the age-friendly designation of a City park.
  • Staff will follow-up on specific requests for information raised by members during the meeting.
  • Staff will circulate the membership list  with contact information to the group
  • Staff will revise the Terms of Reference based on suggestions from members and circulate to the group
  • Staff will circulate all presentations to the group
  • The next meeting is scheduled for May 18, 2016, at 9am, at City Hall (Colonel By Room).

Seniors Roundtable - Wednesday, May 18, 2016

2:00-4:00 pm

City Hall – Colonel By Room


Meeting Summary:

Co-Chair Councillor Diane Deans provided welcoming remarks, and reminded members of the mandate of the Seniors Roundtable which is to: monitor the implementation of the OAP, act as a consultative body, and raise emerging issues important to seniors.

Co-Chair Clara Freire began the meeting by reviewing the standing agenda items.

Clara also mentioned that she and Nadine are available between meetings to support members if they have any questions or would like additional context/background about the OAP.

The presentation slides from the March 2 meeting, approved Terms of Reference, and membership list were sent to members by email on March 10, 2016.  A list of Questions and Answers from the March 2 meeting were sent to members on May 11, 2016.  Clara asked if there were any additional questions regarding those inquiries.  None reported.

Older Adult Plan Q1 2016 Progress Report

Nadine Jodoin gave a brief overview of the structure and content of the Q1 2016 progress report that was distributed as part of the meeting package.

Members were asked to send questions and comments about the report prior to the meeting but none were received.  Nadine stated that the report would not be discussed in detail but that staff would take questions from members on any information presented in the report.

Nadine highlighted two actions: the interactive public washroom map and the refresh of the Guide to Services and Programs for Older Adults.

Questions from Seniors Roundtable members were noted and responses will be provided prior to the next meeting.

Older Adult Plan Action Spotlight and Discussion

Members received a presentation by Kevin Wherry, Manager, Recreation Planning and Facility Development, from the Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Services Department. 

  • Kevin introduced the group to the parks planning process at the City of Ottawa and explained how Action 1.7 (“To make age-friendly improvements to one City park per year”) will be implemented. 
  • Following Kevin’s presentation, members were asked to discuss benefits and issues associated with allocating age-friendly park improvement funding to one park versus using the funding to make smaller improvements to many parks.
The following Seniors Roundtable recommendations were documented:
  • That PRCS apply the Parks and Pathways Inclusive Design Checklist, developed as part of the OAP 2012-2014, to assess existing park conditions and identify features to be included in the park improvement project.  
  • OAP Action 1.7 proceed as a pilot project that will test the implementation and effectiveness of innovative and inclusive design features (specific to older adults) in an existing park.  As such, PRCS should proceed with making improvements to one park (McCormick) in 2016.
  • Research and develop a list of promising age-friendly elements (with associated costs and potential suppliers) that should be considered in the re-development of parks in the future.
  • Assess how the Lifecycle Replacement Policy can be used to provide flexibility in the type of replacement that is allowed, so that the replacement can be aligned with the demographic reality of neighborhoods.
  • Kevin will provide an update on the McCormick Park improvements at the final Seniors Roundtable meeting of the year (November).
  • Staff will prepare a response for the Community and Protective Services committee informing them of the Seniors Roundtable recommended actions.
Presentation – Seniors Roundtable member(s)

The group received short updates from two Seniors Roundtable members.

Terry Sing discussed the International Day of the Older Person – October 1, 2016, and requested the UN declaration be brought to the attention of City Council for potential proclamation and flag-raising.  Chair Deans indicated that she would action this request.  Seniors Roundtable members will be invited to attend if a ceremony is organized.

Liz Tucker from the Kanata Seniors Council informed the group of the Far West Fun Fest event. This two-week event is organized by the Kanata Seniors Council in collaboration with various west end Retirement Homes.

 Age Friendly Ottawa Introduction and Update

Louise Plouffe provided an update on the work of Age-Friendly Ottawa and the partnership between the Council on Aging and the City of Ottawa. 

  • One example of this partnership is the Age Friendly Evaluation project.  The team (also includes the University of Ottawa) has developed an evaluation framework with indicators, using existing data sets. A community report containing the evaluation indicators and baseline findings will be published in the fall. 

Age Friendly Ottawa is exploring a new model of working directly with neighborhoods, in collaboration with the Federation of Citizens Association. 

Questions/Actions received at this meeting:
  • Has the City of Ottawa reached out to the business community to encourage them to make their washrooms available to the public?
  • What is a Smart Burner? Is the Smart Burner product (or something similar) something that is available to the general public or just for purchase though Fire Services/landlords?
  • Could the public washrooms be opened longer hours at Andrew Haydon Park?
  • A concern was raised pertaining to drivers turning before pedestrians have cleared the crosswalks, or turning in front of pedestrians.  Is this issue raised often and have there been awareness campaigns built (or any plans to build campaigns) to address this issue? 
  • Does the City have statistics on technology use among the seniors’ population?  
  • What are the 7 sites being used for Ottawa Public Health falls prevention exercise program?
  • What is the official process with regard to an October 1 proclamation of International Day of Older Persons. Can the proclamation be repeated annually?

Staff will take the concerns and questions to the departments/staff responsible and provide answers prior to the next Roundtable meeting.

  • Staff will follow-up on specific requests for information raised by members during the meeting.
  • Staff will circulate all presentations to the group.
  • Seniors Roundtable members will be invited to review the draft revised Guide to Services and Programs for Older Adults. 
  • The public washroom map will be distributed to Seniors Roundtable members when it is published.
  • Staff will reach out to members of the Seniors Roundtable when work begins on a strategy to reach out to isolated immigrant older adults.
  • Staff will explore options for bringing forward information on the new collaborative project to reduce the rate of social isolation among seniors, which recently received funding from the federal New Horizons for Seniors Program.
  • Councillor Deans will explore the proclamation of October 1 as the Day of Older Persons and a flag-raising ceremony.
  • Councillor Deans will inquire about the possibility of having seniors from Casa De Los Abuelos sing O Canada at an upcoming Council meeting.
  • Louise will give a presentation on the Building an Age-Friendly Business Community program run through the Council on Aging at the August meeting of the Roundtable.
  • Ana Maria Cruz-Valderrama and Beryl McKale have expressed interest to present at the August meeting of the Roundtable.

The next meeting is scheduled for August 24, 2016, 1:00-4:00 pm, at City Hall (Colonel By Room)                                                                                                                                                            

Seniors Roundtable - Membership List


Confirmed representatives

Council on Aging

Lise Chislett

Centre de services Guigues

Roger Régimbal

Kanata Seniors Council

Peter van Boeschoten

Réseau des centres d’aînés francophones d’Ottawa

Pauline MacDonald

The Good Companions

Beryl McKale

Ottawa Community Support Coalition

Margaret Dunn

Coalition of Community Health and Resource Centres of Ottawa

Arlington Dungy

Ottawa Senior Pride Network

Barry Deeprose

Ottawa Community Immigrant Services Organization (OCISO)

Sheila Denetto

Ottawa Aboriginal Coalition

Jo MacQuarrie

Rural Ottawa South Support Services – ROSSS

Carly Hunt

Poverty Reduction Network

Linda Lalonde

The In Community

Teena Tomlinson

VHA Health and Home Support


Bruyère Continuing Care

Joanne Yelle-Weatherall

Seniors Roundtable Terms of Reference


In October 2012, the City of Ottawa adopted a comprehensive Older Adult Plan (OAP) which presents a coordinated approach to addressing the needs of older residents of Ottawa.  The Plan introduces a long-term vision of a community that values, empowers, and supports older persons and their quality of life. The Plan presents 74 concrete actions that will be implemented in the shorter-term (2012-2014) towards the achievement of this vision.   The Older Adult Plan represents a strategic initiative within the Term of Council Strategic Plan (2011-2014).

The actions included in the Plan are organized under eight key strategic areas:  Outdoor Spaces and City Buildings; Transportation; Housing; Communication and Information; Social, Recreational, and Cultural Participation; Civic Participation and Volunteering; Community Supports and Health Services; and Respect and Social Inclusion.  Responsibility for implementation of actions in the Older Adult Action Plan rests with each City Department that has been identified as a “lead” in the Plan; however each City department will play a role in supporting the Plan and its implementation over time. 


The mandate of the Seniors Roundtable is to provide feed-back to City staff on the implementation of the City of Ottawa Older Adult Plan (OAP).  The Seniors Roundtable will also be the City’s primary mechanism for engaging residents on issues affecting older adults.


The Seniors Roundtable will work within and respect the long-term vision and stated core values of the Older Adult Plan.

Vision:  Ottawa is an age-friendly and caring community that values the contributions of older adults, offers a broad range of opportunities for active living, and provides supports that are responsive to the diverse needs and choices of older adults. 


  •          A recognition that older adults are contributors to our community and that all – regardless of cultural and religious background, language, sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, abilities, financial situation, or geographic location – must be respected and included.
  •     A belief that older adults must have access to services that are people-centred, accessible, affordable, equitable, and appropriate to individual needs and abilities. 
  •     A belief that vulnerable older adults must be supported and protected.  
  •     A recognition that the majority of older adults prefer to age in place, in their familiar neighbourhood.
  •     A belief that older adults must be involved in deciding priorities, shaping actions and bringing about change.
  •     An awareness that age-friendly environments and communities benefit all age groups.


The members of the Seniors Roundtable shall be responsible to:

  • Receive progress reports and provide comments on the status of the implementation of the actions contained in the Older Adult Plan;
  • Act as a forum for City of Ottawa staff to seek input related to emerging issues of concern to older adults, as well as corporate programs, services or infrastructure.


The Seniors Roundtable shall be comprised of a maximum of 15 City of Ottawa residents.  These individuals shall be:

  • Residents of Ottawa who are 50 years of age or older;
  • Residents who reflect the City’s diverse population (the City of Ottawa Equity and Inclusion Lens will be applied to assist in inviting a diverse membership);
  • One (1) City Councillor in a liaison capacity.

The Seniors Roundtable will be chaired by City of Ottawa staff.   The term of membership will be for two years, beginning in January 2013 and ending in December 2014. 

The Mayor of Ottawa will extend invitations to community agencies serving older adults to identify older adults to participate on the Seniors Roundtable, as representatives of those agencies.  The Community and Social Services Department will make a final determination of membership in consultation with the Mayor’s Office. 


The Community and Social Services Department will act as the Roundtable’s Secretariat and provide support to the Roundtable (i.e. provide OAP status updates, organize meetings, prepare meeting materials, bilingual minutes, etc).

Representatives from key City departments (e.g. Ottawa Public Health; Ottawa Public Library; Public Works; Community and Social Services Department; Parks, Recreation & Cultural Services; Transit Services; Emergency and Protective Services; Service Ottawa, Corporate Communications) may also be asked to attend meetings to provide updates and information in support of the Roundtable, as required.


Decision-making at Roundtable meetings will be achieved through consensus.  In the event that consensus is not achieved, the Roundtable will use a vote with a majority rule. 

Formal monitoring of the implementation progress of the OAP will be done by Departmental staff and reported to senior management and City Council at regular intervals by the Community and Social Services Department (CSSD).  Feedback received from the Roundtable will be considered for this reporting.

The Terms of Reference for the Roundtable will be reviewed at the end of each term. 


The Seniors Roundtable will meet four times a year.  Sub-groups (on-going or ad hoc) may be created to work on specific issues between meetings.

Communications, such as updates on follow- up actions, will be shared between meetings via e-mail.

All meetings will take place at Ottawa City Hall, 110 Laurier Avenue West.

Participants will be invited to communicate in either English or French.