INNISFAIL – The annual Mayor and Seniors Garden Party was extra special this year with the town’s most valued citizens having a chance to celebrate good news for all seniors.
The afternoon party, hosted on June 6 by the town on a gorgeous late spring day during Seniors Week at the Innisfail and District Historical Village, was the same day seniors were able to herald the first scheduled trip of the town’s replacement handivan.
It was ordered the week before by town council after being told the vehicle was in such poor shape it was driven intermittently for six months in late 2015 and into 2016 with a potentially dangerous smoking steering column.
“We heard about the tremendous inconvenience being caused by the constant failure of the unit. It was time to react,” said mayor Jim Romane to an appreciative audience of well over 100 seniors and invited guests.
The mayor said quality transportation needs for seniors will continue to be a high priority with council, noting the town is also working towards the implementation of a provincial pilot transportation program that will provide seniors regular trips to Red Deer.
“I think that was really appreciated,” said 83-year-old senior Stuart Little of the handivan announcement. “Personally I don’t have a need for it but I know lots of people that do as they were just a little upset that they didn’t have good access to a van. So this has got to be great news. It kind of makes the ice cream and pie a little nicer.”
And there was plenty of pie and ice cream and celebration to go around at the party. Seniors also enjoyed other refreshments and old-time music favourites by Calgary’s Silence in B’tween. Town officials were on hand to help out with the party but also to provide information on a variety of new initiatives, and to get feedback on others, such as the Trail Master Plan. However, the primary focus was always to honour the community’s seniors.
“It is an event to recognize all the contributions that seniors make in our community. So many volunteer, and they are connected to other programs,” said Karen Bradbury, the town’s community and social development coordinator. “Many of our programs couldn’t run without the contributions of the seniors. So it is very important to us to say ‘thank you’ and give back this way.”
In Romane’s opening remarks, seniors were told the town is working hard to ensure seniors’ greatest needs will always be served.
“We recognize seniors’ needs, socially, economically, financially and environmentally and (seniors) are committed to keeping Innisfail a place you can proudly call home,” said Romane.
He pointed out town council recently appointed community members to an Age Friendly Action Plan Committee, which will meet to review and follow up on the findings of the community’s Seniors Needs Assessment project. The mayor also told the audience the town was recently approved for a $24,000 federal New Horizons for Seniors Program that will fund an educational initiative for elder abuse, dementia and other areas of need.
“We can’t express enough how grateful (we are) for all that you do,” said Romane in driving home the point of everyone to appreciative seniors in the audience. “Our community is a much better place because of you.”