Let’s put our seniors to work!

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Dispatches from the 148 by Fred Ryan

The Pontiac is swamped with seniors and retirees (including me) – their population is all that’s growing here. Other age groups are declining in numbers, but not us seniors. Maybe we know something everyone else doesn’t! And that
something would be what a great place the Pontiac is for retirees.

Dispatches from the 148 by Fred Ryan

The Pontiac is swamped with seniors and retirees (including me) – their population is all that’s growing here. Other age groups are declining in numbers, but not us seniors. Maybe we know something everyone else doesn’t! And that
something would be what a great place the Pontiac is for retirees.
Lend me your ear (eyes, actually) for a moment: housing costs in Pontiac are an incredible good deal. To buy, lease,
or rent, seniors would
be hard pressed to find
such bargain prices
and for such good
properties, well-built, well maintained, and efficient. Electricity in Quebec is a bargain, wood heat is a bargain. We are located within an hour or so of the national capital and city of Gatineau, where just about any service is
available – if it isn’t
available here. Living in Montreal or Toronto, for example, would also require an hour’s travel for just about any service – health, dentist, eyes, physio. Pontiac has the best hospital and CLSC network west of Montreal. Labour costs are low – that includes housekeepers and assistants which seniors need, and spills over into most labour jobs – home repair, roof
cleaning, auto repair, snow removal, etc. Our crime rate is low; personal safety high. I can walk for half an hour at night without
the slightest hesitation. The neighbours are great – friendly, helpful, and happy in the way that rural people often are, even if their lives are
circumscribed, as ours are here. And the landscape is beautiful. The air is fresh and clean, usually. The water, well, in most places it’s clean and doesn’t need extra filtering. Noise
levels are low. Stores are well-stocked, friendly, and nearby.
It’s not paradise. Public transportation is one of seniors’ biggest complaints. Shortages are common, and entertainment is limited. But we are an hour’s drive from the capital city.
So why are we looking everywhere for the
next economic miracle
to pull Pontiac up by
its bootstraps? Tourism, we’re told, over and over, is the next saviour of our shut-down economy. After forty years of promise, it’s clear tourism isn’t that saviour. Tourism is essential, is providing some jobs, is attracting some investment, but hardly on the scale to lift the whole boat of our population.
Other economic possibilities are even more distant – investor millionaires? One of Harper’s super-prisons? A farm research station? New forestry? A rural university (a recent novel placed a “Dumoine University” in the Pontiac)? Even the residential boom, as Gatineau sprawls ever-outward, seems not to be making ground here, except in the lower Municipality of Pontiac. Farmers have tried new livestock, from llamas to milk goats, new crops from ginseng to hops and rice . . . nothing on a
helpful scale. Once each government grant runs out, the project folds. An economy built on grants isn’t an economy at all, and now is even less
likely with our new non-vision of Austerity. Why not use what we have here – as we did with timber, iron, water power, soil? Time we put our
best resource to work –
seniors!
I’m not suggesting an 8 to 5. Every senior has done that, and more. I’m suggesting let’s use their example, their needs and their resources, to build
a new economy here,
centred on serving seniors and retirees. A beautiful retirement community as big and varied as the whole Pontiac itself.
As this new economy grows, we’ll all benefit. Municipal tax revenues increase, shops and
services increase . . . mom and dad to the rescue once again! This retirement economy will also bring hundreds of visiting relatives, weekly. Which is tourism.