Expo to showcase East Kootnays to the great population of retirees

Much has been written about our aging population, how the enormous baby boomer demographic is hitting retirement age.

  • Feb. 15, 2012 3:00 p.m.

Much has been written about our aging population, how the enormous baby boomer demographic is hitting retirement age. Some might see this as a cause for alarm, some might see it as an opportunity.

In fact, studies indicate that retirees can be an “economic blessing” for smaller communities. The direct spending of retirees impacts the local economy, and attracting retirees to a community can contribute to its betterment through social programs and volunteerism.

To this end, plans are underway to organize and host a retirement lifestyle expo to showcase Cranbrook as a retirement destination.

The Cranbrook Lifestyle and Retirement Expo will be held in Cranbrook on March 24, 2012 at the Heritage Inn and in Fernie on March 30 at the Best Western.

Organizer Jason Wheeldon explained how the idea came about.

“Last year we did some specific target marketing on open house schedules for some of our gated communities – Sunshine Meadows, Willowbrook, Tara Lee – and for the first time in my entire career I had 100 people through an open house,” he said.

“We found out that some of these people have been in their houses for 30-some years, and don’t have a lot of background on what’s available.

“So we’re doing a two-fold process. One is providing information to the existing community, but also attempting to attract new residents to the community, from all around the East Kootenay.”

For years, a large proportion of East Kootenay residents moved outside the region to retire – not necessarily by choice. Wheeldon said that when he was growing up in Fernie, for example, a lot of Elk Valley residents were retiring in Lethbridge, because all the services were there. But over the past decade Cranbrook has well positioned itself to be a full service centre for health, education, transportation and cultural and active living.

“Cranbrook has those services now,” Wheeldon said. “We’ve got the regional hospital now, our cultural component has increased dramatically in the last few years, the retail, the education, the lifestyle product, the opportunities to volunteer.”

The intent of the expo is to showcase Cranbrook and provide attendees – both local and from all over the region – with information on housing, services and businesses that assist seniors in living an active and healthy lifestyle. “We want to make sure we have a good representation of all the housing product and services,” Wheeldon said. Companies like New Dawn, Golden Life Management, and College of the Rockies – who will be showcasing their adult learning program and some of their seniors programming – and others have committed to participate in the expo. And there are still a few spaces available.

Anyone who offers services catering to the 50-plus lifestyle can contact Wheeldon at his office, 250-420-2350, or email jkwheeldon@shaw.ca.

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