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Welcome to geezer-ville

Finally, an idea from city council whose time has come. Thunder Bay has been struggling for years to establish this city and the surrounding region as a tourist destination.
Finally, an idea from city council whose time has come.

Thunder Bay has been struggling for years to establish this city and the surrounding region as a tourist destination.

Unfortunately, we have neither the resources nor the population base to compete with world-class resorts, casinos and other more expensive and lucrative diversions.

Sometimes it seems the only things we have lots of are senior citizens and aging baby boomers.

Eureka! That’s what Rebecca Johnson must have said when she realized Thunder Bay should declare itself an age friendly community. When you have lemons, you make lemonade.

Why stop there? Let’s consider the possibilities. Once we receive our designation we should jump on that age appropriate bandwagon and turn our community into a haven for Canada’s rapidly growing aging population. But what does age friendly really mean?

It wouldn’t take much to make our annual Bluesfest more age friendly since aging baby boomers already make up the bulk of the spectators at Marina Park.

Even now you will see more whitecaps in the audience than you will out in Lake Superior. Just change the name to Geezerfest, bring in some aging rock stars from the ’60s and ’70s and turn the volume way down. If you build it, they will eventually shuffle on down with fresh batteries in their hearing aids.

In our age friendly merchandise booth we could offer a mixed music tape (remember, seniors still use cassette tapes and some still use 8-track) of such musical favorites as Let’s Get A Physical, Johnny B. Olde and A Hard Day’s Nap.

There are other changes we could make to our community to secure our designation. If we do decide to go ahead with the proposed multi-use facility we should seek corporate sponsorship that reflects our age friendly status. Welcome to the Maalox Auditorium or the Grampa Simpson Arena or even the Viagra Performance Centre.

That last one will attract frisky seniors from all over.

Around town we could establish designated grumbling zones where seniors could gather as required to do some excessive worrying and complaining while they tell endless stories that take forever to get to the point.

There would be adequate ventilation of course to deal with the very real possibility of gas passing or wind breaking. Visiting seniors would be encouraged to use silverware for back-scratchers or to use their car keys to defoliate their ears.

Of course many seniors drive cars well into their 80s so it would probably be a good idea to have a designated seniors only lane on busy streets. Our elderly friends could indicate their status by keeping one of their turn signals flashing at all times.

But all kidding aside, Coun. Johnson might be on the right track if only our community is prepared to run (or in this case, walk in comfortable shoes) with this opportunity. We wouldn’t be the first. Elliot Lake, another, much smaller community has been wooing senior retirees to their city for decades. The only difference would be that we are much bigger and have much more to offer those golden agers.

Of course Elliot Lake has a big head start but we could learn from their example. Let’s see what makes them so age friendly.

First of all, if you are interested you can book a discovery tour of Elliot Lake including two free nights at the Hampton Inn and a guided tour of the city and all retirement living properties and facilities. We could do that. There is a vibrant arts and culture council which operates out of the Lester B. Pearson Civic Centre. Ours, of course, would be located in the Grampa Simpson building.

Their list of outdoor activities could have been taken from a Thunder Bay brochure. They include fishing, boating, golfing, skiing, tennis and canoeing.

They claim 4,000 lakes within a 150 mile radius of the city. Only 4,000? We can do better than that. They claim to be nestled in the heart of the northern Ontario wilderness. We, however, are Superior by Nature.

Folks around here, at various times, have tried to attract Europeans, Scandinavians and rich American tourists to our fair city, with limited success.

Before we sink more money into skate parks and ritzy condos perhaps we should consider this huge, aging population and their power as consumers of goods and services.

A lot of them are already here. Why wouldn’t we be age friendly?

But hurry. Every day we all get a day older.

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