By Chad Ingram
As the county’s population continues to grow, many of its new residents skew older in age. Many are retirees looking to leave life in the city, either moving to what has been a family cottaging property, or simply looking to live in a smaller, quieter community as they move into their twilight years.
But will those retirees find everything they’re expecting to find in Haliburton County? And is its lack of some basic services deterring those who might otherwise move here?
When it comes to services, especially ones that people retiring from the city may expect to find, there remain a few glaring gaps in the county. One is its continued lack of public transportation of any kind. With the exception of specialized transportation for medical appointments, etc., county residents are left to their own devices when it comes to getting around, and for most of us that means heavy reliance on personal vehicles. It remains unclear whether Haliburton County council will actually implement an implementation plan it commissioned from a consulting firm last year for the creation of a booked, shared ride service within the county.
Another missing service is door-to-door garbage and recycling collection. Unless you’re a resident of a multi-unit building, living in Haliburton County means regular trips to the landfill, or hiring someone to take your waste there for you.
Now, let’s take a hypothetical couple, let’s call them Harold and Peggy. Harold and Peggy are both 68, recently retired, are selling their house in Pickering and looking to downsize in a small community north of the GTA. Both have the sort of health afflictions people approaching 70 might have. Let’s say Harold has COPD, and Peggy has chronic arthritis which causes her to use a cane, as well as failing eyesight that means she doesn’t like to drive the car much anymore. When Harold and Peggy find out that moving to Haliburton County means no public transportation and having to deposit their own waste at the landfill once a week, it would be conceivable that they would look at properties somewhere else.
There also remain a number of accessibility issues, including in some public buildings and publicly owned outdoor spaces, throughout the county.
Municipal governance anywhere means trying to balance needs of an entire population, but in a community where most new residents are clearly older people, more needs to be done to ensure that the types of basic services they expect are available.