In less than 20 years, one in four people living in Toronto will be over the age of 65.
And for the very first time in the province’s history, Ontario is home to more people over 65 than children under 15.
That dramatic and ongoing demographic shift also means a big change for how Toronto’s aging population will live in the city, and it potentially poses challenges for condo boards and management as more seniors are choosing to “age in place.”
Penelope Tyndale and Julie Beddoes are two such seniors, both in their 80s, who currently live in the Distillery District — and have called the same condo building home for 17 years.
“I’ve always dreaded being somewhere where I’m not part of the bigger world … It doesn’t matter how good the food is, or how great the gardens are in a [retirement] home — you’re on planet zed. You’re not part of the larger universe,” said Beddoes.
‘I’ve always dreaded being somewhere where I’m not part of the bigger world.’
– Julie Beddoes
“My nightmare is being cut off from the world and from stimulus,” added Tyndale, who is taking four classes at the University of Toronto and often attends concerts downtown.
Downsizing to condominiums
Both Tyndale and Beddoes are living the provincial government’s aging strategy — which provides tools to allow seniors to live independently in their homes to avoid “premature admission to long-term care homes or hospitals.”
Between the challenges of maintaining a large home and the hot real estate market that is Toronto, many seniors are choosing to downsize into condominiums.
‘My nightmare is being cut off from the world and from stimulus.’
– Penelope Tyndale
After retirement, Tyndale and her husband wanted to move from Toronto to Barrie, but looking at their options, a house was neither affordable nor practical.
She settled on a building in the Distillery District developed by Options for Homes — a non-profit developer that promises to pass on cost-savings to the resident and help with down payments.
“It made it possible for us to have a bigger space,” Tyndale said to CBC Toronto’s Dwight Drummond. “It also had more of a sense of community and it was clear that this was going to be something new, an adventure.”
“If you walk along the Esplanade to the market, you better have spare time… because you’re going to see lots of people,” quipped Beddoes about her neighbourhood.
A sense of community — or “age-friendly communities” — is one of the government’s commitments in Ontario’s Action Plan for Seniors.