Did you know that multiple services are offered specifically for Laval citizens aged 65 and older? For one, Laval has been a Municipalité amie des aînés (MADA) since 2014.

That means it’s a senior-friendly city, striving to provide better services for seniors as well as conducting studies related to their well being. For instance, Christiane Yoakim, city councillor for Val-des-Arbres, notes that a study is looking at how much time it takes for seniors of different ages to cross the street. “I’ve asked that we look in front of retirement homes to evaluate if there is enough time for seniors to cross the street. We have to make sure seniors have the best services possible, and that includes crossing the street in a safe manner,” Yoakim says. “It’s also important to have good bus shelters close to retirement homes so people can wait safely for the bus. Those are the kind of things that are important to me.”

Public transit is actually free for all Laval citizens aged 65 and older. The HORIZON 65+ program at Société de transport de Laval (STL) offers free public transportation (besides the metro and the train) to seniors 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The only amount that seniors need to pay is $15 to obtain an Opus card, which is valid for seven years.

“I’m really proud that access to transportation is free in Laval for senior citizens,” Yoakim explains. “It gives independence to those who don’t have access to their cars anymore. They can take the bus for free anytime.”

There is also a subsidy offered to seniors aged 65 and older for housing. The city gives seniors $150 per housing unit per year. For those who have Guaranteed Income Supplement, the amount is doubled to $300. The deadline to apply for the 2019 subsidy is April 30, 2020. “It’s not huge, but it’s a little help for those aged 65 years and older,” says Yoakim. “It’s still important, since these people really need the help.”

When it comes to fun and fitness, the Sentier accessible et ami des aînés (SAADA) at Bois de l’Équerre boasts a 1.3 km path specifically designed for seniors and people with disabilities. Not only is it easily accessible and safe, but the path is also part of a forest protected by the city. “It’s an initiative that the city has put forward to make walking easier for seniors. We are now looking at adapting the approach to other forests and parks,” explains Sandra El-Helou, city councillor for Souvenir-Labelle and responsible of seniors affairs.

It is now mandatory in Laval to have a permit for every cat and dog. These pets also need to wear tags. For seniors with cats or dogs, those two costs are now covered by the city. “It’s part of our plan for seniors. They only need to fill out a form. For those who are not comfortable submitting it online, they can call 311,” El-Helou explains.

Speaking of numbers, here is another to keep in mind: 211. It’s a community resource line to find information or ask for personal assistance. People can either call 211 or visit 211.ca.

Besides services provided by the city, Laval hosts many organizations working specifically for seniors, such as DIRA-Laval, which protects seniors from abuse. In Val-des-Arbres neighborhood, there is the Groupe de loisirs La Relance, a not-for-profit organization working to eradicate isolation of citizens aged 50 years and older. They offer a good selection of activities, such as conferences, theme parties, and live musical outings.

On top of that, seniors have their own festival every year in October: Laval Seniors Week, which is organized by the city in collaboration with community organizations. It offers a myriad of free activities including live music, exhibitions and guided tours.

“It’s important to offer services tailored to seniors since the population is aging. If we give seniors the necessary support, they stay in a better shape. It’s also a social cost,” Yoakim explains. “‘It allows us to ensure longevity and to share knowledge by keeping our seniors active in their community and closer to the younger generation.”

According to Sandra El-Helou, senior citizens deserve the community’s help. “Seniors have given their all to society: to their kids, to their grandkids, to their community, to their city… Some have a good income, but it’s not easy for everyone,” she explains. “We need to take care of the people who took care of us when we were young.”