As you know, STAR has been working on transportation issues and services for seniors for several years now. With the demographic shift towards an aging population, we know that getting seniors to where they need to go, sustainably, is going to be more important than ever. With that in mind, we are pleased to announce that we are coordinating a three-year project, led by Burnaby Community Services, with the objectives of:

We are excited to work with partners and stakeholders around Metro Vancouver, including Burnaby Community Services, City of Burnaby, Collingwood Neighbourhood House, the United Way, Silver Harbour Seniors Centre, Share Society, the Bus Co-op, MVT Canada, Fraser and Vancouver Coastal Health, ICBC, TransLink, Vancity and other partners.

The project, Seniors on the Move, has been funded by the Government of Canada, through New Horizons.

Find the official press release here.

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives’ recent Seniors Fact Sheet addresses Enhancing Social Support for Seniors Living in BC.

The author observes that while it is important for seniors to “age in place,” they must also be able to leave their homes, carry out daily activities, engage in their community and visit friends and family. Supportive services that prevent isolation are a key determinant of seniors’ quali­ty of life, health and independence.

To read the fact sheet in full visit here.

It’s good to see the national media tackling the issue of seniors’ driving. Here the CBC looks at the implications for seniors when they must give up their licenses. For many it means a dramatic change in lifestyle.

The STAR Newsletter for April is now available. For all the latest STAR news click here.

The prototype of a “smart walking stick” with built-in sat-nav has been developed by Japanese technology giant Fujitsu. The walking stick is equipped with connection technologies including GPS, 3G and wi-fi. It also has an LED display on top of the handle which indicates which direction to go.

The Next Generation Cane is designed to help elderly people find their way, as well as monitor things such as heart rate and temperature. If the stick detects an irregular heartbeat, it can automatically contact emergency services.

If a change of direction is needed, the walking stick vibrates, and an arrow appears.

The cane location can be followed online – and can be set up to send email alerts if it thinks the user may have fallen over.

Data is sent back to a host computer, so a carer or relative can see the location of the user, with additional data, such as heart rate, being streamed.

To read more about the Next Generation Cane visit here.

The United Way of the Lower Mainland and SPARC BC have partnered in the development of a research report in an effort to provide support to planning and development for seniors in the Lower Mainland.

In producing the report, they analyzed and mapped recent socio-demographic and economic indicators that are relevant to planning for the wellbeing of seniors. This snapshot presents facts and trends only and does not engage in interpretation of the findings nor does the report include recommendations. There are ten sections in the report, including Mobility and Migration, Living Alone and Sense of Belonging, Language, and Health Care.

To read the report, “Seniors in the Lower Mainland: A Snapshot of Facts and Trends,” visit here.

Media Release

30 January 2013

New study highlights impact of environmental change on older people


Researchers at the Stockholm Environment Institute at the University of York and Simon Fraser University’s Gerontology Research Centre in Canada are calling for better awareness of the impact a changing environment will have on an ageing population.

By 2050, nearly 25 per cent of the global population will be aged 55 or over. This trend and environmental change bring together two key policy challenges which need to be addressed to ensure a safe, secure, equitable and sustainable future. But international policy makers have given little attention to the effects global environmental change will have on this demographic group.

A new report from an international consortium led by the Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) at the University of York and Simon Fraser University’s Gerontology Research Centre, and including the Community Service Volunteers’ Retired and Senior Volunteer Programme (RSVP), highlights the need to raise awareness of the effects of a changing environment on older people across the world. (To read the report, Global ageing and environmental change – attitudes, risks and opportunities, click here).

Dr Gary Haq, of SEI, said: “Over the last four decades environmental quality in many regions of the world has been seriously affected by major environmental problems. There is an urgent need to better understand the interaction between global ageing and the environment if we are to prevent and minimise the impact of environmental change on older people.”

The results of a pilot international survey of older people’s attitudes suggest they are concerned about the environment, the threat of climate change and energy and water security. They are pessimistic about the state of the planet that future generations will inherit believing environmental challenges will have grown significantly by 2050. However, respondents expressed limited concern on how climate change will impact their own lives which was surprising given the specific vulnerabilities of this demographic group.

Professor Gloria Gutman, Research Associate at Simon Fraser University’s Gerontology Research Centre said: “Older people themselves, and especially those with chronic illnesses, need to recognise that environmental change can affect them personally. Data from around the world show that weather-related disasters kill older people at a disproportionate rate.”

The report calls for appropriate policies to encourage older people to reduce their personal contribution to environmental change, to protect older people from environmental threats, and to mobilise their wealth and knowledge and experience in addressing environmental problems.

The report highlights three areas where action should be taken.

1      Reduce the environmental footprint of the ageing population by promoting greener attitudes and behaviour and individual lifestyle choices. This could be done with targeted engagement of older people and providing appropriate infrastructure and incentives.

2      Protect older people from environmental change by adopting policies that reduce their environmental vulnerability. In developing countries, lack of basic infrastructure such as clean water and sanitation, health and social care combined with poverty and malnutrition make them vulnerable to environmental threats.

3      Mobilise older people in environmental protection by encouraging them to take part in environmental volunteering and making the most of their local knowledge of past environmental change.

The report underlines the need for more evidence-based research towards a better understanding of the unique geographical and socio-economic factors affecting interaction between older people and environment change.

It calls for policies to be ‘age proofed’ so they support older people throughout their lives as well as harnessing the contribution they can make to addressing environmental threats and reducing their vulnerability.



A cohort study from Austria shows that the impressions of caregivers overwhelmingly topped all other reasons for ending the driving privileges of older people with dementia – including car accidents and loss of driving license. To read the article click here.

Happy New Years everybody! To read our greeting and STAR update click here.

On November 30 STAR attended the Getting Wiser with Age Conference in Abbotsford put on by the Fraser Valley Regional District. Presentations made at the conference, including STAR’s, are now available at the FVRD website.

“The Importance of Adequate Transportation to Aging in Place,” the latest report of Statistics Canada Senior Analyst Martin Turcotte, has just been released. Conclusions stress seniors’ continuing reliance on personal vehicles; dependence on accessible transit or travelling mainly as a passenger in a vehicle is a barrier to social participation. To view the full report click here.

The STAR November 2012 newsletter is now available. To find out about all we have been up to at STAR click here.

We are looking forward to providing information relating to seniors transportation and the STAR program to the new Better at Home initiative.

The goal of Better at Home is to help seniors with simple day-to-day tasks so that they can continue to live independently in their own homes and remain connected to their communities. The program is funded by the Government of British Columbia and managed by the United Way of the Lower Mainland; local non-profit agencies will provide services.

The first eighteen communities to participate in Better at Home were announced in September.
Over the next year, a total of about sixty Better at Home sites are expected to be announced across the province.

For FAQ related to Better at Home visit here.


The City of Vancouver is presenting a series of dialogues inviting people to discuss how the City can prepare for a growing population of seniors and older adults.

Dialogues take place Oct 29 at Gordon Neighbourhood House; November 5 at Marpole Place Neighbourhood House; November 9 at Trout Lake Community Centre; November 13 at Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre; November 14 at Collingwood Neighbourhood House; and November 15 at Vancouver City Hall.

For more information visit here.

The first STAR Training Event held on October 12 in Vancouver was a great success.

STAR: Introduction to Social Enterprise brought together members of the STAR Team and expert panelists to discuss the social enterprise model as it relates to seniors transportation.

Presentations by Langley (Janice McTaggart, Director of Outreach and Volunteer Services, Langley Senior Resources Society) and Boston (Jean Patel Bushnell, Executive Director, ITN Boston) provided useful and much-appreciated perspectives on the creative solutions as well as the challenges faced by suburban/rural and urban communities.

STAR Team members walked the group through business development tools – needs assessments, feasibility analyses, and business plans – and provided information specifically related to STAR software and marketing.

Many thanks to everyone who braved the inclement weather to attend. We would particularly like to thank our panelists and presenters, Bev Pitman (UWLM), Janice McTaggart (LSRS) and Jean Patel Bushnell (ITN Boston).

Additional training events are now being planned and will be advertised shortly.

Janice McTaggart and Marty Frost

Marg Mahan and Beth Hurford with workshop participants.

Marg Mahan

Steve Beck

A recent British study has found that when seniors use the bus on a regular basis their physical activity level increases – as a result of walking to and from the bus, and points in between.

These findings, outlined in the Sept. 20 issue of the American Journal of Public Health, come out of a study of a U.K. program which provides limited income citizens aged 60 and older with a free bus pass for all local buses.

While a “key purpose of the concessionary scheme is to increase bus use as a means of reducing social exclusion among older people and, in particular, to ensure access to travel among those on limited incomes,” the study showed that seniors with access to buses walked significantly more than those who did not use the bus regularly.

Using the bus, argue the researchers, may therefore play “a key role to play in keeping older adults physically fit.”

Physicians’ warnings to patients that they are potentially unfit to drive can prevent car crashes, reports a new study.


The findings indicate that the annual rate of car accidents among patients who were warned fell about 45% in the year after the doctor’s intervention, compared with the 3 years before.


The results of the research are presented by Dr. Donald Redelmeier, of Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, and colleagues in an article in the September 27 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.


However the study also notes that emergency department visits for depression rose and patients saw their physicians less frequently after they were warned not to drive.


(Thank you to Tim Williamson for drawing our attention to this article).


The September 2012 STAR Newsletter is now available. To read about what the STAR Team has been busy with over the summer, and our exciting plans for the fall, visit here.

Introduction to Social Enterprise and Seniors Transportation


Join the STAR Team for a day-long workshop designed explicitly for seniors-serving agencies.

Because funding models are changing and we can’t rely on government funding for seniors transportation, seniors-serving agencies need to find new ways to generate funds. This workshop will discuss different business models and ways to move forward in this environment.

The workshop takes place on Friday, October 12 from 9:00-5:00 pm at the YWCA Hotel, 733 Beattie Street, Vancouver. Lunch is provided.

To see a detailed agenda click here.

For information please contact Margaret Mahan, 604-669-2860, ext. 208,

Please RSVP to Margaret Miller at 604-669-2860,



STAR Update

Over the past several months the team at STAR have been actively engaged in preparing Needs Assessments, Feasibility Analyses, and Business Plans for seniors-serving agencies around the Province.

Needs assessments have been completed for Sea to Sky Community Services (Pemberton and Squamish), Whistler Community Services Society, and Abbotsford Community Services Society.  West Vancouver Seniors Centre and Capilano Community Services have both received their completed Needs Analysis and we are hoping to begin work on a combined North Shore project, that will include partners Parkgate United Church and Silver Harbour Centre.

New agencies across the province, including the Jewish Federation of Greater Vancouver and agencies from Oliver to Saanich, have contacted the STAR team and are enthusiastic to be a part of the assessment process. We look forward to working with them during the autumn.

Feasibility Analyses and Business Plans are underway for Silver Harbour Seniors Centre (North Vancouver), Langley Seniors Resource Centre, South Vancouver Neighbourhood House, and Renfrew Collingwood Neighbourhood House.

And huge Milestone has been reached:

STAR services have now been formally contracted with both South Vancouver Neighbourhood House and Langley Seniors Resource Centre. We are proud that these two agencies are the first “formal” members, and look forward to serving them in the years to come.

For further information on how your agency can become involved in the assessment process please contact Margaret Mahan, 604 669 2860,


STAR Advisory Council

Now that we have completed initial community outreach and testing of ideas it is time for STAR Seniors Transportation Access and Resources to seek more formal and ongoing input to ensure that it meets the needs of seniors in BC for sustainable, affordable and accessible transportation in every way possible. To help gather the opinions, views and experiences of seniors and the agencies that serve seniors, we are convening a group that will meet 3-4 times a year.
The inaugural meeting of the STAR Advisory body will be held on March 7th at the BEST offices. Initial membership is made up of:

The group will be discussing and determining their role and function in support of STAR, so if you have ideas, issues and/or concerns, please forward them to Marg Mahan for inclusion on the agenda. Emails or phone calls are welcome at  or 604-669-2860.
The Advisory council will no doubt have things to say in the near future, so stay tuned.

You can read the meeting notes of the first meeting here.

Sonia Ward, Senior Cyclist

By Elizabeth Godley

In 2001, Sonia Ward made her first major cycling trip, from Kamloops to Lake Louise and back. She was 61. “Something I had always wanted to do was cycle along the Columbia ice field,“ she recalls.

Sonia Ward on BIke

That year, encouraged by friends, she and her husband, Frank, had joined the Cross Canada Cycle Touring Society, a group composed mainly of bike riders over 60. Since then, she has participated in CCCTS tours to Montana, Holland and San Diego. Another tour took her through the Cascade Mountains, and another from Victoria to Port Hardy and then by ferry to Prince Rupert and Prince George. “It was just so perfect. We had only one day of rain until we got to Prince George.”

Their two grandchildren live in the Kootenays with their parents, and Sonia recalls a wonderful ride from Kalso to New Denver that follows an old railway bed.

Last summer, the couple spent three weeks in the Maritimes with the CCCTS, touring Cape Breton and PEI as well as Halifax, and putting up at three different universities, where accommodations are a bargain when the students aren’t there. It was on that trip that she and Frank rode 98 kms in one day, their record so far.

Sonia, 72, and Frank, 80, have always been active. “We were hikers and climbers, but gradually Frank’s knees got bad and it was easier to cycle,” she says.

The couple usually join the CCCTS for regular Sunday rides, starting at 22nd Street SkyTrain station in the morning and going over the Queensborough Bridge and on to Steveston. If the weather is wet, she and Frank will drive from their home in Deep Cove to New Westminster, but otherwise they will cycle all the way, a distance of about 74 kilometres.

Sonia has been riding a bike all her life, first as a child in the UK, and later as a midwife at Kings Hospital in London, before she came to Canada and raised a family. Recently, a bout with cancer slowed her down – but not for long.

This summer, she and Frank are looking at a trip to Croatia.

The couple enjoys cycling with others their own age. “As you grow older, you find you can’t keep up with the younger folks,” she says. “I try to listen to what my body is telling me. Some days you feel like you keep going for miles – other days, maybe not.”


For information about STAR (Seniors Transportation Access and Resources) please contact the BEST office at 604-669-2860;

An innovative program to keep seniors engaged, connected, socially active and independent is the Go Bus, operated by Silver Harbour Seniors Centre in North Vancouver. I recently had the opportunity to travel along with the Go Bus, its friendly driver John McCann, and its enthusiastic riders.

Silver Harbour Go Bus

As seniors transition away from driving a car, adequate transportation can be a challenge. Yet it is a vital element in maintaining independence and emotional, mental, and physical well-being. To age in place happily, seniors need the ability to go shopping, get to appointments, and perhaps most importantly, maintain connections with family and friends.

The Go Bus is a shuttle bus service which helps seniors do those things, whether it’s going to appointments, errands, or to the Seniors Centre to socialize. When I arrived at Silver Harbour to meet the bus, a group of women were arriving to take a fitness class at the centre. After the driver, John McCann, established that he would be back at 11:30 to pick them up, I got on board and we headed off on his route. Over the course of the next two hours we drove all around North Vancouver, picking up and dropping off seniors going to doctor’s appointments, physio appointments, the bank, a nursing home for a visit, and a shopping mall.

Driver John, who has a background driving for care homes, said he has always seen the value in helping seniors get out of their homes and breaking their isolation. He is clearly committed to helping seniors — the Go Bus is not just about getting seniors from place to place, it is about helping them maintain relationships and quality of life.

For the seniors I met there could be no doubt that the Go Bus was essential to their well-being. There was an obvious satisfaction in knowing that there was reliable transportation and pleasure gained in the interactions with John and other seniors.

That the Go Bus is important to North Van seniors is further evidenced by the fact that when, in August 2010, the Go Bus was in danger of closing due to lack of funding, seniors rose in protest. After publicity in the local press and television, several sponsors stepped up to make contributions that kept the Go Bus going.

The Go Bus runs from 8:30-4:30, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and is available to seniors over 65 who have limited transportation options or are unable to access public transportation. There is no charge, but donations are accepted.