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LETTER: McLean Park proposal aligns with new Barrie Health Accord, say proponents

'It is our hope the City of Barrie will review and revisit the McLean Park proposal,' family says
2020-05-28 McLean JO-002
The location of the McLean family's land at 121 Penetanguishene Rd., in Oro-Medonte Township. Contributed image

BarrieToday welcomes letters to the editor at [email protected]. Please include your daytime phone number and address (for verification of authorship, not publication). The following letter is in response to a story titled 'Barrie Health Accord brings agencies together to address community's long-term health' published on Oct. 26. The McLean family wants to build a seniors community on Penetanguishene Road in Oro-Medonte Township, just outside the Barrie city limits. 

The McLean Family is delighted that local municipal leaders, including Mayor Jeff Lehman have signed the Health Accord. COVID-19 has underlined the need to build resilient and sustainable communities.

Social and physical determinants of health is a body of knowledge that has been around for more than four decades. It is endorsed by leaders in planning, medicine, mental health and addictions. In the pie graph of life, it turns out that 55% of our health and longevity is related to behaviours and social circumstances.

How and where we live can reduce the burden within an overloaded health-care system. As Dr. Theresa Tam recently repeated, our postal code predicts our health outcomes. So, if we want to decrease hallway medicine, one way is to build better, way better.

In the coming decade, up to 25% of our population will be over 65 years of age. Are we ready? Can we envision a community that allows seniors to age in place, still connected and active? Will we move past the institutional model for elder care?

McLean Park represents the basic tenets of the Health Accord and how healthy communities should and must be created. It is located on Penetanguishene Road, in Oro-Medonte bordering Barrie.

This proposal represents extensive consultation with experts in design, health, and seniors living. It turns out that the predictors of health are not rocket science, yet profoundly important.

The pillars for this community include right-sized housing, physical activity, open and green space, social connection, nutrition, transit proximity, and jobs.

We propose a model for which half are seniors, half all ages, creating a healthy mix of age and demographics. McLean Park includes urban agriculture with a yield on market crops and local food sustainability that exceeds current production.

(This week) Premier Doug Ford announced over $1 billion for infrastructure projects for shovels in the ground helping communities to build for the future. This project is the future, and it is a worthy one.

The Mayor’s signature, on behalf of the City of Barrie, to the Health Accord is an expectation that steps will be taken to ensure its implementation. All signatories to the Accord recognize the need for all municipalities in Simcoe County to work together, without regard for municipal boundaries, to achieve solutions for the greater good of all residents.

Clearly, immediate action is needed. So, too, is innovation, creativity and flexibility to overcome the barriers that have resulted in a need for the implementation of the Health Accord.

It is our hope the City of Barrie will review and re-visit the McLeanPark Proposal. The elected leaders of Oro-Medonte and the County of Simcoe have enthusiastically endorsed the proposal and understand how McLean Park is completely aligned to help overcome the overwhelming health and housing crisis.

Flexible and innovative planning is a cornerstone to improving health and wellbeing. We share one goal - creating communities that protect our seniors, and create viable living spaces for all. Let’s work together and make this happen.

The McLean Family