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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Seniors’ participation in community planning : the relevance and effectiveness of a seniors’ outreach process Rowe-Evans, Elinor Annwen

Abstract

This thesis explores the topic of seniors' participation in community planning. More specifically, it addresses the importance and relevance of including seniors, seniors' issues, and seniors' perspectives in community planning efforts, the circumstances under which seniors are most likely to become involved in community planning efforts, and guidelines for a practical process to encourage effective seniors' participation in developing local community plans. To address these issues, the thesis includes a review of the planning literature on public participation, a brief summary of relevant trends in gerontological literature, and an examination of the small amount of literature on seniors' participation in community planning. Two case studies in the District of North Vancouver, BC, "Seniors and the Lynn Valley Plan" and the "Seymour Local Plan Seniors' Forums," provide an example of a particular seniors' outreach process. This process is analysed for its effectiveness in including seniors, seniors' issues, and seniors' perspectives in local community plans and then factors influencing effectiveness are examined. This thesis reveals that the inclusion of seniors, seniors' issues, and seniors' perspectives engenders more accurate planning, increases acceptance of community plans, exercises democratic rights and duties, and promotes self-sufficiency and self-worth in individuals and communities. Seniors are most likely to become involved in community planning efforts when they feel included: when they feel they are fulfilling a meaningful role, when certain emotional needs are satisfied by the planning process, and when they are able to take advantage of participation opportunities, that is, when aging-related needs are taken into account in designing and implementing planning processes. The process employed in the two cases studied, with certain suggested improvements, is found to be an appropriate and effective method of including seniors, their issues, and their perspectives in community planning efforts.

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