Age-friendly and Child-friendly Communities

Credit: Picture BC

According to the 2011 census, seniors (65+ years of age) compose about 15% of British Columbia’s population, and children and youth (0-17 years) compose 19% of the province’s population. Children, youth, and seniors form an important part of every community. They also have unique needs around leisure, accessibility, and health that local governments need to consider.

What is this issue about?

Age-friendly and child-friendly communities, as their names imply, are communities that provide the programs, resources, and infrastructure required for seniors, children, and youth to thrive. Such communities consider the needs of these residents in their community planning and policy work. While some activities and programs may be planned for and appeal to one age, there are benefits for the whole community.


  • According to WHO, “an age-friendly city encourages active ageing by optimizing opportunities for health, participation, and security in order to enhance quality of life as people age.”i
  • Age-friendly cities consider seniors' needs with regard to outdoor spaces and buildings, transportation, housing, social participation, respect and social inclusion, civic participation and employment, communication and information, and community support and health services.
  • Through Age-friendly BC, the government of British Columbia is working with local governments and other stakeholders to achieve the vision of a province where people of all ages and abilities feel included and valued in their communities.


According to UNICEF, “a child friendly city is a city or any local system of governance that is committed to fulfilling children’s rights,” including safety and health, civic development, play and social activities, and equal opportunity rights.ii

Why are age-friendly and child-friendly communities important for health and well-being?

An age-friendly community is important for seniors’ health because it allows seniors to stay active and connected to others, while also "aging in place." Age-friendly communities reduce travel barriers, allowing seniors to visit friends, exercise, and volunteer, all of which are good for mental and physical health as they reduce depression and heart disease, and increase life expectancy. Age-friendly communities have physical infrastructure that is less likely to cause falls, a major cause of disability among seniors.

A child-friendly community is important for a healthy community because it sets the stage for a good start in life, leading to healthy mental, social, and physical development, as well as healthy lifestyle habits. Child-friendly communities provide opportunities for physically active play and sport through recreation programs and playgrounds, learning opportunities through libraries and community events, and civic engagement and leadership development through municipal processes. Provided early in life, these opportunities allow children and youth to build the confidence, knowledge, and skills they need to thrive as they develop. Simply put, local conditions that support healthy children and youth also support the development of healthy adults and a healthy society overall.

Did You Know?

  • In 2011, 16% of B.C.’s population was composed of seniors.iii By 2036, this number is expected to rise to 24%.iv
  • In 2011, 45,300 seniors (65+ years old) in B.C. lived in seniors homes, composing 6.6% of the senior population.v
  • In 2011, 19.1% of B.C.’s population was composed of children and youth (0-17 years old).vi
  • In 2010, B.C. had the second highest child poverty rate in Canada.vii

Why do age-friendliness and child-friendliness matter for local governments?

Local governments have many of the tools necessary to make age-friendly and child-friendly communities a reality. They can consider the needs of seniors, children, and youth and involve them in planning initiatives, programs, and events. Municipal action to create age-friendly and child-friendly communities attracts seniors and families with children to move to and stay in these communities, allowing for healthy lifelong development for all ages and for healthy communities overall.

Take Action

Policy and Planning

Create an age-friendly plan.

The Revelstoke Community Social Development Committee, a committee of the City Council of Revelstoke, completed an age-friendly plan that follows the suggested areas of implementation as per WHO’s Global Age-friendly Cities: A Guide. The plan includes community goals, policies, and recommended actions.

To learn how to become an age-friendly community, see Age-friendly BC.

Funding support for developing an age-friendly plan is also available through UBCM’s Age-friendly Community and Planning Grants.

Create a child- and youth-friendly plan or strategy (including child care strategies).

The Child and Youth Friendly Abbotsford Working Group created a Child and Youth Friendly Abbotsford Community Strategy, using multiple consultative processes (focus groups, interviews, surveys). The plan also includes short-term and long-term outcomes with strategies, actions, and partners.

The City of Surrey created a Child and Youth Friendly Strategy that contains goals around civic engagement, parks and recreation, and more. Progress is monitored through Surrey's Social Plan Annual Report each year.

Add objectives related to children, youth, and seniors to Official Community Plans.

The City of Victoria's OCP has a Multigenerational Neighbourhoods goal.


Design community consultative processes and civic processes with the communication styles of children, youth, and seniors in mind. The use of social media (Facebook, Twitter, blogging) is increasingly important in connecting with members of the community, especially youth.

Perform accessibility audits to assist in making communities more age-friendly.

Many communities in Northern British Columbia are involved in a program called Measuring Up the North, which brings together businesses, health professionals, community organizations, building code officials, planners, and developers to evaluate the accessibility of the community for people of all ages and abilities. Some of the measuring elements include support services, access to information, employment, and social contribution.

Celebrate the contributions of youth and seniors through volunteer awards and presentations.

Every year during BC Youth Week, the City of Richmond hosts the U-ROC (Richmond Outstanding Community) Youth Awards, celebrating the achievements of youth and youth groups within the community.

Prepare a child care assessment, which is critical for helping working families.

With the assistance of SPARC BC, the City of Richmond created its 2009-2016 Richmond Child Care Needs Assessment and Strategy, containing information on the City’s role in childcare, a needs analysis, and an implementation plan for different stakeholders.

Partnerships and Programs

Invite community members and service organizations to participate in municipal child, youth, and seniors' committees. Committees of council are a popular way for community members and organizations to have a voice in the lives of children, youth, and seniors. As of 2013, at least 19 B.C. municipalities had child- or youth-related council committees, and at least 16 municipalities had seniors' council committees.

The Nelson and District Youth Advisory Council provides youth with opportunities for leadership via the running of the Nelson and District Youth Centre. The Youth Advisory Council is involved in funding opportunities, special event requests, strategic planning, advocacy, youth issues, and networking with the community.

Create centres and programming designed for children, youth, and seniors.

The City of New Westminster has a youth centre with recreational facilities (computer lab, billiards, exercise room) located right next to its seniors' centre, which offers various programs. This is the first co-located youth and seniors centre in North America and allows for intergenerational interaction.

The Capital Regional District created a map to highlight the services, facilities and places that provide opportunities for social connection among older adults. By visually linking these places with information on public transit, the map is a tool that can be used by older adults, their families and their caregivers across the capital region.

Provide grants to community organizations that work for children, youth, and seniors.

The City of North Vancouver created a Child Care Capital Improvement Fund that offers grants to non-profit societies to expand, repair, renovate, or purchase new equipment for child care facilities in the City of North Vancouver. Grants can be up to $10,000.

Funding for Seniors' support is accessible through UBCM funding programs.

Celebrate BC Seniors’ Week and BC Youth Week

Go here for information about BC Seniors Week
Go here for information about BC Youth Week

Partner with COSCO BC (Council of Senior Citizens’ of BC) to deliver workshops on various seniors' issues.