Re: editor John Harding’s editorial May 1 about the elementary school closure in Qualicum Beach, specifically his view that “the last 10 years have not been banner years for the growth and demographic diversity” of Qualicum Beach.
My husband and I consider ourselves relatively new to Qualicum Beach, having moved here from Victoria three years ago (after retiring “young.”) Since our arrival we’ve read numerous depressing comments in letters to the editor about the town’s demographic, such as: there are too many ‘old’ people, too few families and children, there’s too little for young people and singles to do, our elementary school closure will bankrupt the town, families will move away, and… you get the picture, a bleak future full of woe.
But hold on just a minute. We’re Canada’s capital of over 65s. Baby boomers and those just behind us are a burgeoning group. As many wait now until 65 to 70 or later to retire, we’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg of retirees from the big cities looking for a relaxing environment like Qualicum, in which to enjoy life.
So thinking outside the box, as Harding suggests we do, here’s a completely different idea: let’s capitalize on and expound the virtues of our demographic to attract more boomers and retirees to settle in our town. Retirees are a ‘business.’ Free up land to build more of The Gardens and more residences for all levels of independent and dependent living and care (convert the elementary school?). A bonus and needed attraction strategy is that “support services” for these residences, workers of all ages and their families, will move to our town.
Not taking the opportunity to capitalize on this big business of aging, for which Qualicum’s reputation is renowned already, means we’re not seeing the forest for the trees. While even retirees need the occasional box store and fast-food fix when visiting elsewhere, to be truly honest: we shop in our town, eat in our restaurants, pay taxes or rent, spend money here where we live, and sustain this community in a big way. Consider retirees the life’s blood of Qualicum. We need many more of “us” too.