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Canadian Housing Observer 2011 - Chapter 8 Seniors' Housing
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SENIORS’
HOUSING
As discussed in Chapter 5, the number of seniors
(those aged 65 and over) in Canada is growing
much faster than the number of non-seniors,
and the senior population is expected to more
than double by 2036.1 As people age, their needs are
likely to change due to disabilities, medical conditions,
changes in their household composition, and/or
changes in their financial situation. Population aging
therefore requires various forms of housing, a range
of models of coordinating housing with support
services, and community planning that respond
to the needs of seniors and enhance their quality of life.
In 2006, senior households were more likely to live in
unacceptable housing than non-senior households,
especially if they were single-person households. The
average household income for senior single-person
households is much lower than the average household
income for all other senior households, and seniors
living alone are much more likely than other seniors
to be in core housing need. However, seniors’ housing
conditions improved between 1996 and 2006, with the
percentage of senior households in core housing
need dropping from 17.8% to 14.4% over this ten-year
period. Further, the housing conditions of senior
households improved more substantially than those
of non-senior households between 2001 and 2006.2
This chapter discusses key issues related to seniors’
housing, including differences between urban and rural
communities, aging in place, the interface between
housing and support services, age-friendly communities,
new housing approaches, and the response of the housing
sector to the changing demand.
Senior urban households and senior rural
households face different challenges
A majority of seniors live in Census Metropolitan
Areas (CMAs),3 Canada’s large urban centres, but seniors
are overrepresented outside CMAs (see Figure 8-1).
8
1 See Chapter 5: Demographic and Socio-economic Influences on Housing Demand.
2 See “2006 Census Housing Series: Issue 10 – The Housing Conditions of Canada’s Seniors”. Research Highlight. Socio-economic Series; 10-021.
Ottawa: Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, 2010. www.cmhc.ca/od/?pid=67201 (May 31, 2011).
3 A Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) consists of one or more adjacent communities with a total population of at least 100,000, of which
50,000 or more live in the urban core.
Source: Statistics Canada (Census of Canada)
Seniors (aged 65+) as a proportion
of total population, 2006
Fig 8-1
Non-CMA/
CA Areas
CAs
CMAs
Canada
13.7%
12.9%
15.5%
15.5%
FIGURE 8-1

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At 15.5%, the proportion of seniors relative to the total
population is higher in smaller urban centres (Census
Agglomerations4—CAs) and outside urban centres than
in CMAs. This is not surprising, considering the
attractiveness of many smaller centres as retirement
destinations and the higher propensity of non-seniors to
migrate from smaller urban centres and rural
communities to larger cities. There is considerable
variation across CAs in the proportion of seniors relative
to the total population, from Wood Buffalo, AB (at 2%)
to Elliot Lake, ON (at 32%) and Parksville, BC (at 34%).
Increasing options for seniors in urban centres
A wider range of housing options that can meet the needs
of seniors is currently more widely available in urban centres
than in rural communities. Economies of scale, the existence
of a well-developed construction industry, the often
relatively low cost of construction compared to rural and
remote communities, and the presence of a wide range of
community organizations, seniors groups, faith-based
groups, and other civil society institutions interested in
serving seniors are all factors that support the provision of
housing and supports for seniors in urban areas. The result
is a growing availability in urban areas of housing designed
specifically for seniors and of services that meet the needs of
seniors who are aging in their homes, as well as projects
based on innovative partnerships that integrate housing and
support services.
Options are more limited for seniors
in rural communities
The availability of housing options and both in-home
and community-based support services for seniors in rural
communities varies. The local economy, demographic
trends, and the community’s role in the regional housing
market are important factors in determining seniors’
housing options and their access to support services. These
factors are especially significant in communities that
are small, are not part of a larger urban area, and do not
accommodate a wide range of neighbourhood and
housing types.5
Characteristics that are common to most rural communities
and that have relevance for housing include home ownership
rates that are higher than in urban areas, the limited
availability of rental housing (due in part to the small
size of the local construction industry and the risk
associated with investments in rental housing in rural
areas), the relatively small population size, a location
outside the commuting zones of urban centres, and the
higher transportation costs that residents incur to travel
longer distances to access services.
Aging in place
About 20% of households with maintainers aged 65 and
over moved in the five years preceding the 2006 Census.
Of households with maintainers aged 75 and over, only
about 17% moved between 2001 and 2006. These
mobility rates are significantly lower than for non-senior
households (at 44%).6 They confirm that a large majority
of seniors are choosing to age in place; that is, to continue
to live in their current home and familiar community
for as long as possible even if their health changes. Some
seniors choose to downsize and/or to relocate in order to
have better access to services or to live closer to family
members, and then age in place in their new home.
A number of approaches could further enable seniors
to remain in their homes without sacrificing needed
services or safety:
i) Home modifications;
ii) New tools produced by gerontechnology;
iii) Alternative housing approaches;
iv) Coordination of housing and support services; and
v) Age-friendly planning and development.
4 A Census Agglomeration (CA) consists of one or more adjacent communities with a total population in its urban core of at least 10,000.
5 See “Housing Needs of Low Income People Living in Rural Areas: The Implications for Seniors”. Research Highlight. Socio-economic Series; 03-012.
Ottawa: Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, 2003. www.cmhc.ca/od/?pid=63253 (May 31, 2011).
6
Mobility and Migration, 2006 Census. Statistics Canada catalogue no. 97-556-XCB2006017. Ottawa: Statistics Canada, 2008.

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i) Home modifications
By accommodating disabilities and thus increasing
independence and safety, home adaptations can improve
seniors’ quality of life and lengthen the time they can
continue to live in their homes. Seniors are more likely to
have disabilities than non-seniors; in 2006, 43% of all
seniors and 56% of those aged 75 and older had a
disability, compared to 10% of non-senior Canadians.7
Demand for home modifications will continue to grow as
the population ages and as seniors account for increasingly
larger shares of the population.
Seniors may need adaptations of different parts of
their homes or the addition of devices or features to make
their homes more accessible.8 Kitchens (see Figure 8-2)
and bathrooms (see Figure 8-3) are among the rooms that
often need modifications to improve their accessibility.
Seniors’ housing conditions improved between
1996 and 2006; the percentage of senior
households in core housing need dropped from
17.8% to 14.4%.
Seniors account for about 16% of the population
of smaller urban centers, reflecting the attractiveness
of some of these centres as retirement destinations.
About 20% of senior households moved between
2001 and 2006, compared to 44% of non-senior
households.
An increasing number of municipalities are allowing
secondary suites, and some provinces have modified
their codes and regulations to address them.
FastFacts
7 The 2006 Participation and Activity Limitation Survey: Analytical report. Ottawa: Statistics Canada, 2007.
www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/89-628-x/2007002/t/4183077-eng.htm (May 25, 2011).
8 CMHC maintains a suite of information products on home adaptations and accessibility, including the About Your House: Accessible Housing
by Design series. For more information, visit www.cmhc.ca Keywords Accessible Housing by Design.
Credit: CMHC
Bathtub with grab bar, adjustable
height shower head and a bath bench
Fig 8-2
FIGURE 8-3
Credit: Acton Ostry Architects Inc.
Accessible kitchen with knee space
under the counter and cooktop
Fig 8-2
FIGURE 8-2

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9 See “Smart Technologies in Affordable Seniors Housing”. Research Highlight. Socio-economic Series; 11-011. Ottawa: Canada Mortgage and Housing
Corporation, 2011. www.cmhc.ca/od/?pid=67506 (October 6, 2011).
Further, depending on the type(s) of disabilities that a
senior has, the construction of a ramp, the installation of
a hoist (see Figure 8-4), a lift (see Figures 8-5, 8-6, and 8-7)
or an elevator, the replacement of appliances with ones
that include accessible features, or the installation of
automated systems may be needed to make the home more
accessible. Increased demand for such modifications and
products is leading to the development of new approaches
and products and to increased options for seniors and
their families and caregivers (see Figure 8-8).
ii) New tools produced by gerontechnology
The growing interdisciplinary field of gerontechnology
promises to increase the potential for aging in place for
seniors. Tools are being developed that can support
independent living taking individual differences into
account. An example is smart sensors which remind seniors
to turn off appliances, record patterns of use, and alert
caregivers when the senior’s use of the appliances indicates
a potential problem9 (see Figure 8-9).
Source: CMHC
Stationary hoist
Fig 8-4
FIGURE 8-4
Source: CMHC
Ceiling lift
Fig 8-5
FIGURE 8-5
Credit: CMHC
Stair chair-lift
Fig 8-6
FIGURE 8-6

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Another example is monitors for seniors with serious
medical conditions to enable them to continue living
at home without sacrificing needed care.10
iii) Alternative housing approaches
Alternative housing approaches include intergenerational
housesharing, cohousing, and the coordination of
housing and support services. Each has advantages
and disadvantages.
Intergenerational housing
Intergenerational housing is where two households
representing two generations of the same family live
in the same home. Often this is in two separate units,
one of which may be the larger principal dwelling and
the other a smaller secondary suite (see text box Secondary
suites). Intergenerational housing of this type is therefore
feasible in locations where municipal by-laws permit
secondary suites.
Source: CMHC
Unenclosed vertical platform lift
Fig 8-7
Safety gate: Manoeuvring
space on landing and at latch
side of gate is required
Manoeuvring
space at lift
Clear path to driveway
and/or sidewalk
FIGURE 8-7
Credit: CMHC
Ramp using a landscape approach
Fig 8-8
FIGURE 8-8
Credit: Photo by Frank Knoefel and Rafik Goubran
Smart voice fridge sensor
Fig 8-9
FIGURE 8-9
10 F. Knoefel and R. Goubran, Role of Technology in Supporting “Aging in Place”. Presentation at the Fall 2010 National Housing Research
Committee meeting. Ottawa: 2010. www2.webcastcanada.ca/nhrc-cnrl/PPT/nov15-eng/day1-4-frankknoefel-eng.pptx (March 14, 2011).

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Most Canadian municipalities have zoning by-laws that
regulate the use of buildings and their physical
characteristics, and that determine where different types
of uses and buildings are allowed. The provisions
for secondary suites in zoning by-laws vary widely by
municipality. Some municipalities do not allow
secondary suites at all, while others allow them in any
type of dwelling and in any location as long as they
comply with zoning and building code regulations that
apply to all dwellings. Between these two models is a wide
range of approaches that allow secondary suites with
restrictions. For example, a municipality might allow
secondary suites only for a specific occupant (such as a
parent above a certain age or a person with special needs),
or might allow secondary suites in specific zones and
prohibit them in others. In recent years, some
municipalities which previously did not allow secondary
suites or allowed them in a restrictive fashion have
changed these zoning restrictions in response to changing
demographics, very low vacancy rates in the rental
housing market, and rising house prices. Some, such
as Victoria, British Columbia, now encourage secondary
suites (see text box Secondary suite incentives).
Generally, building codes are enacted by the provinces
and territories and are administered and enforced by
municipalities. The approach taken to secondary suites
in building codes varies by jurisdiction. The building codes
in most provinces and territories do not specifically address
secondary suites, and the provisions that apply to
duplexes and small apartment buildings in these provinces
and territories usually also apply to dwellings with a
secondary suite. Some provinces have added separate
parts to their building codes that specifically address
renovations and alterations and that can apply to secondary
suites. British Columbia and Alberta have introduced
regulations for the construction of secondary suites
that are separate from regulations for duplexes and small
apartment buildings. The construction of secondary suites
therefore requires compliance with all applicable zoning
by-laws and building code regulations in the respective
neighbourhood, municipality and province or territory.11
A secondary suite is a self-contained dwelling unit that has its own bathroom and kitchen, is separate from the
principal dwelling in a house, and can be located either within the principal dwelling or in an accessory structure,
such as a coach house, on the same property as the principal dwelling. A secondary suite can also be a new structure
on the property; these are often referred to as “garden suites”.1 A secondary suite can be a practical and affordable
option for homeowners and renters alike, as it is a way to make use of space that is not needed, to generate rental
income for the homeowner, and to make affordable rental units available.
For a senior homeowner who wishes to remain in his or her home and who has more space than is needed, a
secondary suite can allow a caregiver to live in very close proximity while the senior and the caregiver both maintain
separate households. A secondary suite can also allow senior homeowners to rent out space that is not used and to
generate some income from their dwellings. Secondary suites in the homes of seniors’ families can make it possible
for seniors who are interested in downsizing and in living very close to relatives to do so while still maintaining
a high level of independence. They are therefore a form of housing that can create new options for seniors and
their families and caregivers.
1 See About Your House: Garden Suites. Ottawa: Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, 2009.
www.cmhc.ca/od/?pid=65009 (May 31, 2011).
Secondary suites
11 See About Your House – Secondary Suites. Ottawa: Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, 2009.
www.cmhc.ca/od/?pid=66497 (May 31, 2011).

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Intergenerational homesharing can have many benefits
for both the younger and the older family members.12
The household that owns the home can better afford
home ownership by renting part of the home to
relatives who pay a reasonable rent while at the same
time enjoying benefits such as a backyard. If the older
household owns the home, the homesharing arrangement
might allow the younger relatives to more easily own a
home if they eventually inherit or purchase the home
from the parent(s).
Security and the proximity to relatives can also be an
important benefit. Families with young children who opt
for intergenerational housing often value the opportunity
that this arrangement creates for their children to see
their grandparents regularly; for grandparents, being
able to help care for and spend additional time with
their grandchildren can make for a more interesting
lifestyle. Further, older family members who occasionally
need assistance appreciate the proximity to younger
relatives and find it reassuring. However, some families
12 “Intergenerational Home Sharing and Secondary Suites in Québec City Suburbs”. Research Highlight. Socio-economic Series; 04-028.
Ottawa: Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, 2004. www.cmhc.ca/od/?pid=63573 (May 31, 2011).
Victoria, British Columbia
In 2007, City Council changed the regulation of secondary suites in single family zones by eliminating the
requirement that homeowners provide extra parking for a suite. Council also agreed to permit suites in houses
of any age. In the two and a half years following the changes, the number of suites created nearly doubled that
of the previous two and a half year period, increasing to 51 from 26. In 2009, City staff sent a report to Council
reviewing the results of the previous changes and recommending further bylaw changes based on public input.
Council made the following decisions:
Remove the five-year restriction on changes to the building facade and permit additions of up to 20 m2
(215 sq. ft.) to enable the creation of a secondary suite;
Reduce the ceiling clearance required in secondary suites to 2 m (6.56 ft.) from 2.13 m (7 ft.); and
Authorize staff to give priority to building permit applications for secondary suites and provide
more hands-on assistance to applicants.
The City also decided to offer homeowners financial incentives to construct secondary suites through a municipal
grant which covers 25% of the construction costs up to a maximum of $5,000. In return, the homeowner enters
into a partnership agreement with the City that guarantees the suite will be used as rental accommodation for at
least five years. The partnership agreement is registered on the property’s title and remains in effect if the house
is sold. Victoria has allocated $250,000 from its Housing Trust Fund to finance the program.
To be eligible for a suite—and the grant—a house must have a floor area of at least 150 m2 (1,615 sq. ft.).
Suite sizes may not exceed the lesser of 90 m2 (968 sq. ft.) or 40% of the home’s total floor area.
Victoria posted information about eligibility requirements, regulatory compliance and the grant program on its
website, with links to more detailed documents (see www.victoria.ca/cityhall/departments-sustainability-secondary-
suites.shtml (May 25, 2011)). Potential applicants can also contact City staff for further assistance.
Secondary suite incentives

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may prefer greater privacy and less risk of other
adverse circumstances affecting their rental income
or security of tenure.
Cohousing
Cohousing refers to a housing arrangement where two or
more individuals, often unrelated, share a home. While
each resident has a private space, cohousing residents
typically share common areas, such as a kitchen and a
living room. Cohousing can be an option for seniors
who are no longer able to live alone or who want
companionship but who wish to remain integrated
in the community. Sharing a home allows residents to
help each other when they need assistance, can mean
lower housing costs and related expenses compared
to what each would incur when living alone, and
can help seniors avoid isolation. However, some may
not be comfortable with such an arrangement, and
care needs to be exercised in selecting a person(s) with
whom to share housing.
iv) Coordination of housing and support services
The relatively high rates of disabilities and mobility
limitations among seniors coupled with population
aging and gains in life expectancy mean that there are a
growing number of older Canadians who will live
with health limitations and disabilities for an increasing
number of years. Some of these seniors will be able to
rely on family members for support. Due to the lower
labour force participation of women in the past,
caregiving for aging family members was traditionally
provided by female relatives. However, most Canadian
women are now in the labour force, and adult children
are increasingly mobile and less likely to live close to
their aging parents. Fertility rates have decreased over the
past four decades;13 an increasing proportion of elderly
women without any surviving children is projected.14
These trends require increasing provision of non-family
support services if seniors are to remain in the
community and if they are not to move to long-term care
facilities prematurely.
Whether seniors live in their family home, downsize
and move to a smaller private dwelling, or choose to
live in a seniors’ residence, support services have to be
available to them if they need assistance. The availability
of supports to seniors who need them is key to their
health and safety and to maintaining their housing
situation. Support services that many seniors need
include meal preparation, transportation, laundry,
housekeeping, assistance with medication, help with
dressing and bathing, and the organization of social
and recreational activities.
Home supports for seniors who live in private dwellings
can be provided through provincial or territorial home
and community care programs, or by non-profit seniors
groups and community organizations or by for-profit
providers (see text box Choice in Support for Independent
Living (CSIL), British Columbia). Increasingly, seniors
housing developers and sponsors are integrating support
services with housing in supportive housing (see text box
What is supportive housing?) that is geared specifically to
seniors who do not require long-term care but need some
assistance to maintain their independence.15 Some of
these residences offer independent living and care units
within the same facility (see text boxes Augustine House and
Haven House,16 and Résidence Parc Jarry). Whether the
sponsor is a non-profit group or a for-profit developer,
such projects generally involve collaboration between the
sponsor and other entities—such as service providers,
community groups, and government agencies—in order
to ensure the effective delivery of services and their
successful coordination with housing.
13 See Fertility Projections for Canada, Provinces and Territories, 1993-2016. Catalogue no. 91F0015MIE. Ottawa: Statistics Canada, 1996.
www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/91f0015m/91f0015m1996001-eng.pdf (April 4, 2011).
14 See Projecting the Future Availability of the Informal Support Network of the Elderly Population and Assessing its Impact on Home Care Services.
Catalogue no. 91F0015M – No. 009. Ottawa: Statistics Canada, 2008.
15 For more information, see “Supportive Housing for Seniors”. Research Highlight. Socio-Economic Series; issue 56. Ottawa: Canada Mortgage
and Housing Corporation, 2000. www.cmhc.ca/od/?pid=62448 (May 31, 2011).
16 See www.cmhc.ca/en/inpr/afhoce/index.cfm (March 31, 2011).

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CSIL is a self-managed model of care in which individuals with disabilities and high-intensity care
needs are funded directly by government to hire workers to provide home support services. Individuals
assume full responsibility for covering wages, mandatory employer payments such as Canada Pension
Plan and WorkSafeBC, and allowable expenses such as costs for advertising and recruiting, and hiring
a bookkeeper for financial reporting purposes. Individuals thus have access to a range of home and
community-based health services to meet their needs, and to support them in maintaining their
independence.
One of the main benefits of the program is that it allows individuals to customize and manage delivery
of their own home support services, allowing them to maintain independence and to continue to live
in the community, close to family and friends.
British Columbia has more than 800 people who receive home support through CSIL. The Association
of CSIL Employers is a group composed of people with disabilities who are currently enrolled in the
CSIL program. The association provides information, resources and peer support to CSIL employers.
Source: British Columbia Ministry of Health
Choice in Support for Independent Living (CSIL), British Columbia
Supportive housing helps seniors in their daily living by combining a physical environment that is
specifically designed to be safe, secure, enabling and home-like with support services such as meals,
housekeeping and social and recreational activities. This allows residents to maximize their independence,
privacy, dignity and decision-making abilities. Supportive housing can be developed in many forms
depending on the types and level of services to be provided, the project size desired, the types of
accommodation preferred, the types of tenure wanted and the types of sponsorship available. Services
can be provided through a combination of on-site and off-site arrangements and can be made available
to both residents and other older people living in the surrounding neighbourhood. Highly service-enriched
supportive housing, such as assisted living, can be an alternative to unnecessarily accommodating people
in a nursing home.
Supportive housing can be developed by the for-profit, the not-for-profit, or the public sector—
or by partnerships between these sectors. It can be made available in a range of tenure types, such
as rentals,leaseholds, condominiums and life leases. It is also possible to combine different tenure
types in individual projects.
What is supportive housing?

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Augustine House in Delta, British Columbia is an initiative of the St. Augustine Council of the Knights of
Columbus. The Council formed a non-profit organization, the Augustine House Senior Citizens Society, to
build accessible and affordable housing on land donated by the parish. Although the residence resulted from
the commitment of the Knights of Columbus, Augustine House is non-denominational.
Augustine House offers seniors independent living in a mixed-income community. Twenty of the suites are for
lower-income residents and are subsidized through Independent Living BC, a program funded by CMHC and BC
Housing through the Affordable Housing Initiative. Fraser Health, the regional health authority, funds the program
for residents in the subsidized units. The remaining suites are rented on a private-pay basis at the local market rate.
Augustine House is situated on 1.29 ha (3.2 acres) and surrounded by gardens, treed walkways and views of country
fields. The 124 units include bed-sitting rooms, studios, one-bedroom and two-bedroom units. Each suite has a
kitchenette and accessible bathroom with specially designed showers. Most suites have either a balcony or patio
off their main living area.
The public library, local financial institutions, dry cleaners, foot care nurses and other professionals come to
Augustine so residents can use these services if they wish. In addition to being served by public transit, residents
are provided scheduled shopping trips twice a week to the local commercial centres on the Augustine House bus.
The bus is also used for trips and outings as part of the recreation services.
Haven House is a specially designed living area within Augustine House for residents with memory impairment.
Haven House is a licensed care facility and offers couples the opportunity to remain close to one another—one
in independent living, the other in care.
Haven House also provides for aging in place, allowing those residents who are no longer able to live independently
to remain in familiar surroundings. Haven House is located on the ground floor of the building and has an
enclosed garden and a central living room and kitchen area where residents are encouraged to participate and
contribute, to the best of their ability, to decisions that affect their daily lives.
Augustine House and Haven House
The private developers of Résidence Parc Jarry responded to the housing need of low-income seniors in the
Montréal neighbourhood of Villeray where low incomes were prevalent while rents were increasing—a singular
challenge to the growing number of seniors in the area.
When S.E.C. Jarry, a local private developer, acquired an abandoned building, a market study, conducted with an
interest-free Proposal Development Funding loan from CMHC, revealed that there was significant rental demand
from seniors. The developers decided on a 160-unit retirement residence where half of the units were to be
affordable housing and the other half available at market value. The resulting residence is modern and attractive.
When it opened in November 2008, Résidence Parc Jarry confirmed what the market study had shown. The building
quickly became 99% occupied, and the local provincial health authority immediately reserved 34 of the units for
its clients in a 10-year agreement. Seniors who live there not only enjoy rents of about $600 below market value;
they also have access to personal-care services, three meals per day, laundry service and room cleaning, and access
to common areas, such as the lounge and courtyard, and to activities that make the development a true community.
Résidence Parc Jarry—Affordable supported housing for seniors
in the heart of an old Montréal neighbourhood

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v) Age-friendly planning and development
Housing cannot be viewed in isolation from the community
in which it is located. Seniors need not only seniors-friendly
housing; they also need their communities to be environments
that are physically supportive and responsive to their needs.
Communities are age-friendly if they are characterized by
the following qualities that make them livable for seniors:
Neighbourhood walkability;
The availability of transportation options that meet
the needs of residents who do not drive;
Access to services that seniors need;
The availability of different housing options;
Safety; and
Opportunities to engage in social and civic activities.
Planning and zoning changes that would make communities
age-friendly are among those that are needed to facilitate
“Smart Growth”17 and to make communities more livable
for everyone. Planning for walkable, compact, mixed-use
development communities allows seniors to live
independently by increasing their sense of safety in public
spaces and reducing reliance on automobiles. Availability
of convenient public transportation service is essential
for seniors who no longer drive, and is at the same time
key to planning Smart Growth. Properly maintained
sidewalks, better lighting, and attractive streetscapes help
seniors feel and keep safe and encourage people of all ages
to walk more often. A range of housing options offers
seniors the opportunity to choose from among different
housing types and makes it more likely that seniors will be
able to find appropriate housing as their needs change.18, 19
There is an increasing interest in the concept of
age-friendly cities and communities and in accessible
design guidelines among urban planners and policy
makers (see text boxes Age-Friendly Manitoba Initiative and
Visitable housing guidelines).
17 Smart Growth focuses on managing growth, imposing development efficiency and protecting the environment. See Smart Growth in Canada:
Implementation of a Planning Concept. Ottawa: Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, 2005.
ftp.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/chic-ccdh/Research_Reports-Rapports_de_recherche/eng_unilingual/smart%20growth_(w)_jan6.pdf (March 14, 2011).
18 See “Community Indicators for an Aging Population”. Research Highlight. Socio-economic Series; 08-014. Ottawa: Canada Mortgage and Housing
Corporation, 2008. www.cmhc.ca/od/?pid=66099 (May 31, 2011).
19 See “Impacts of the Aging of the Canadian Population on Housing and Communities”. Research Highlight. Socio-economic Series; 08-003.
Ottawa: Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, 2008. www.cmhc.ca/od/?pid=65913 (May 31, 2011).
Age-Friendly Manitoba Initiative
The Province of Manitoba announced the Age-
Friendly Manitoba Initiative (AFMI) in February
2008. Through the AFMI, the Seniors and Healthy
Aging Secretariat works with Manitoba communities
to create physical and social environments that meet
the needs of Manitoba’s growing seniors population,
to support active living for seniors, and to ensure
that senior Manitobans have the opportunity to fully
participate in their communities. The Secretariat has
partnered with organizations such as the Association
of Manitoba Municipalities, the Manitoba Chambers
of Commerce, seniors organizations, service providers,
and community and faith leaders to more effectively
address seniors’ needs. AFMI has also developed a
partnership with the Centre on Aging’s Age-Friendly
Communities: Community-University Research
Alliance (CURA) at the University of Manitoba.
Funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities
Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada, this project
aims to create knowledge of the factors that contribute
to age-friendly communities and to build capacity
in research and community development among
citizens, government officials, service providers,
and researchers that can help them address issues
surrounding active aging and age-friendly planning.
The AFMI provides funding to communities to
launch age-friendly activities. The activities address
housing, transportation, and other physical issues
such as the safety of sidewalks, as well as health
services, community support, and social participation.
As of March 2011, 72 communities in Manitoba
had launched age-friendly activities with support
from the AFMI.

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Prince George, British Columbia
Visitable housing is housing that is designed to permit the safe use by visitors with mobility challenges.
At a minimum, visitable housing has three accessible features: A zero-step entrance at the front, side, or back
entrance of the house; wider doorways on all main floor doors; and a half bath (i.e. toilet and sink) on the
main floor that is wheelchair accessible. In 2009, the Measuring Up the North Initiative, which was created to
further the social and economic inclusion of persons with disabilities in British Columbia, hosted the Creating
Universally Designed Healthy Sustainable Communities Conference in Prince George to raise awareness of
visitable housing. The conference was partially funded by Affordability and Choice Today (ACT),1 a program
that was funded by CMHC and that provided grants to help municipalities, private and non-profit builders,
and other stakeholders overcome planning and building regulatory barriers by developing practical solutions at
the local level.
Following the conference, the City of Prince George, British Columbia, undertook an initiative aimed at
implementing visitable housing. With the help of an ACT grant, the City set up a Visitable Housing Project2
with the objective of compiling a comprehensive information package to assist the City in developing policies,
guidelines or mandatory regulations to address visitable housing for new single-or semi-detached homes.
The Prince George project identified a number of best practices. A fourth visitable design feature—an
accessible main floor living room—was proposed to ensure social inclusion during the winter months
for those living in northern climates. A discussion paper outlined draft Official Community Plan objectives
and policies as well as a number of recommendations to advance the implementation of visitable housing
including voluntary design guidelines.
In March 2011, the City of Prince George Council approved the recommendations for voluntary guidelines
and mandatory regulations. This includes preparing objectives and policies for visitable housing within the
Official Community Plan review that do the following:
Identify the creation of visitable housing as a community objective;
Contemplate further analysis of visitable housing within an amenity contribution policy and incentives
packages;
Provide direction to consider the Visitable Housing Voluntary Design Guidelines as part of the development
review process; and
Require that, on land sold by the City of Prince George, no less than 15% of newly constructed market-rate
single- and semi-detached homes be visitable and all newly constructed affordable (non-market) single- and
semi-detached homes be visitable.
1 See www.actprogram.com (July 11, 2011).
2 See www.princegeorge.ca/citybusiness/longrangeplanning/studies/VHP/Pages/default.aspx (July 11, 2011).
Visitable housing guidelines
Responses by the not-for-profit and for-profit sectors to the growing demand for seniors’ housing
Seniors’ housing developments are very diverse in size and concept. Affordable seniors’ housing projects are usually relatively
small; the number of units varies, but projects with fewer than 30 units are not uncommon. Some of these projects provide
only housing, with the main goal of offering seniors adequate housing at an affordable rent. Other projects are developed
to provide affordable supportive housing and to target seniors who need supports in order to continue living independently.

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Caledonia Two and Kodiac Place are two examples of
affordable seniors’ housing (see text boxes).20
For-profit seniors’ residences vary in size but are often
fairly large. The form of the dwelling units also varies,
from detached and semi-detached houses to apartments.
Dutton is a small Ontario community of about
1,400 people near St. Thomas. Its Lions Club has
been operating the 25-unit Caledonia Gardens since
1993. When the demand for this seniors’ housing
development grew beyond its capacity, Dutton and
District Lions Club members decided to develop a
second phase.
The design of Caledonia Two reflects the club’s
experience in operating seniors’ housing. Residents
comment on both the comfort of the units and the
quality of the construction. The building’s wide halls
and doorways, large closets, laminate flooring and
convenient amenities demonstrate an understanding
of the needs of seniors. Residents who need
additional support or medical care can access the
services of a care home located on the same campus.
The development is viable at affordable rents
thanks to capital contributions from the Canada-
Ontario Affordable Housing Program and the
Municipality of Dutton-Dunwich and funds raised
through the Dutton and District Lions’ own
campaign—a piece that was critical to bringing the
other partners on board. Further, affordable housing
development—especially in small communities like
Dutton—often benefits from the efforts of volunteers.
Significant resources from a variety of contributors,
including CMHC, the Government of Ontario
and the Municipality of Dutton-Dunwich, along
with community fundraising, complemented the
successful community-based partnerships initiated
by the Dutton and District Lions Club.
20 See www.cmhc.ca/en/inpr/afhoce/index.cfm (March 31, 2011).
Caledonia Two
Kodiac Place, a non-profit housing corporation,
created affordable housing for seniors in Petitcodiac,
New Brunswick through adding another building
to a site it owned, helping lower costs.
The village of Petitcodiac lies between Moncton and
Sussex in southeastern New Brunswick. Surrounded
by farmland, the village has lost many of its younger
citizens who move for job opportunities in larger
communities. As the community ages, there is a
growing need for housing that is affordable and
accessible to seniors. Without appropriate housing
in the area, lower-income seniors would be required
to choose between remaining in housing that does
not meet their needs or moving to larger towns
or cities.
In 2004, Kodiac Place determined that it would
be feasible to add more seniors’ housing to a site it
owned that already housed a 20-unit rental building.
By intensifying the site, Kodiac Place was able to
reduce the costs of the new development. By 2006,
the new building which consists of 2 one-bedroom
apartments and 6 two-bedroom units was occupied.
All the units are accessible to people with mobility
challenges, allowing residents to age in place.
Through the Affordable Housing Initiative, CMHC
provided funds to cover part of the construction
costs, while the government of New Brunswick
provided rent supplement assistance to the residents
of all eight units. The local Kiwanis Club provided
a bridge subsidy at the outset in the form of a loan
that has already been paid off.
The apartments were built to meet the housing needs
of single-person senior households with an annual
income of $21,000 or less and couples with an annual
income of $26,600 or less. The rents are $500 for
one-bedroom units and $550 for two-bedroom
apartments; residents pay for hydro separately.
Kodiac Place

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There is a regional variation in the prevalence of different
unit types, with ward units, semi-private units and small
private units being more common in some provinces
than in others. The data also show that seniors’ residences
offer a wide range of services and amenities.21
Some senior residences built and operated by private
sector developers and management firms are independent
living facilities that are designed for those who do not
require assistance. Independent living facilities sometimes
combine housing with recreational amenities such as
sports facilities and seek to cater to the increasingly active
lifestyles of many seniors, especially younger seniors.
Other residences offer assisted living accommodation.
Broadly speaking, assisted living is housing that offers
services and care to seniors who need supports. The types of
services and care vary and can include personal care and
health services in addition to help with daily activities
such as housekeeping and meal preparation. Many
assisted living facilities offer residents a menu of services
that they can choose from based on their needs. Rents
vary widely and depend on the size of units, the services
and amenities offered, and the location.22
For-profit developers of seniors’ residences are increasingly
collaborating with governments and the non-profit sector to
leverage resources and to increase the availability of seniors’
housing that is affordable and that offers the services and
care that seniors need. The Royal Oak Village project is an
example of such a partnership (see text box Royal Oak Village).
Conclusion
Population aging has important implications for housing
and related services. The for-profit and non-profit
housing sectors are already responding to changing needs
with innovative solutions. Support service providers are
adapting their operations to meet the needs of the
increasingly diverse senior population. Policy-makers at all
levels of government are paying more attention to
seniors and to the need for age-friendly housing
policies and community planning. These responses are
contributing to an ongoing process of change in Canadian
communities that is increasing seniors’ quality of life and
helping them maintain their independence and social
participation as they age.
21 Seniors’ Housing Report – Canada Highlights. Ottawa: Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, 2010.
www.cmhc.ca/od/?pid=65991_2010_A01 (May 31, 2011).
22 For more detailed information by region, please consult Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s Seniors’ Housing Reports
https://www03.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/b2c/b2c/init.do?language=en&z_category=0/0000000160 (March 14, 2011).
Royal Oak Village
Christenson Communities, a for-profit housing
development company with experience in developing
seniors’ residences in Alberta, is currently completing
Phase 1 of Royal Oak Village, a seniors’ residence in
Lacombe, Alberta. The Village is designed to fit the
lifestyle of active seniors and to offer them supportive
services as their needs change, thereby enabling
them to stay in the community longer. The provision
of supportive services is made possible through a
collaborative effort involving the developer, the
Alberta government and the non-profit seniors
services sector. The first phase of the project includes
73 units, 23 of which offer supportive services that
are funded by Alberta Health Services and operated
by the Good Samaritan Society.1
In May 2010, the Government of Alberta and
Christenson Communities announced an expansion
of the Royal Oak Village. Using funding from
Alberta Capital Bonds and the Affordable
Supportive Living Initiative, the Government
of Alberta committed $8.8 million to the developer
to make 88 of the units planned for Phases 2
and 3 more affordable.2 Each eligible resident
of these new affordable units will also receive
supportive services that will be funded by Alberta
Health Services.
1 See www.cdlhomes.com/Royal-Oak.asp (July 11, 2011).
2 See alberta.ca/home/NewsFrame.cfm?ReleaseID=/acn/
201005/2828869C3F576-D334-2543-7702A6F56C15D127.html
(July 11, 2011).