By Wendy MacMillan
(April 2020)
– I moved from Kitchener to Port Stanley five and a half years ago, to be closer to family and enjoy a quiet, laid back community near the beach in my then recent retirement. It was my dream to live near water and it was attainable at Port real estate prices … at least then.

A few things were apparent to me fairly quickly.

  • Port is full of warm and welcoming people, with interesting backgrounds and skills. Many are willing to give of their time, energy and expertise to make this area an even better place to live, now and in the future.
  • Politicians are more accessible and approachable than I was used to in Kitchener and Toronto. You bump into them at the grocery store and can look each other in the eye.
  • Port Stanley was about to go through a period of unprecedented growth and change: an opportunity and a challenge.
  • Things taken for granted in a big city were not a given here: local health care, transit, government services, rental housing, sidewalks. But I was grateful for the services that are here and knew I should make good use of them to ensure they remain.
  • The beach was wonderful, but a mixed blessing. It brought welcome visitors, but also cars.
  • I wanted Port to be my home for the long term. I got involved with Port Stanley Festival Theatre and Port Stanley Village Association, to meet people, to enjoy and support the community, to understand and contribute my skills to help Port take advantage of current and future opportunities.

I also started thinking about where I will live when I get older or less active. Could I continue to live in my house, financially and physically? What were my options? Did I need to do something now to get ready? Was I the only one thinking about this? Seemed to me there were a lot of older residents around town and more expected due to development and the baby boomer generation (of which I am one) moving through. It’s an issue for everyone as they age and the trouble is, we don’t always get to decide the timetable or have the opportunity to plan ahead.

I got on the waiting list for the Kettle Creek Villa on Frances Street and I am still on it five years later. I don’t need to move yet, but I know there are people who do and are also still waiting. People who want to stay in Port as they age sometimes have to move elsewhere to find affordable rental places to live.

I got involved in a PSVA committee investigating and advocating for more seniors’ housing for Port and Central Elgin. That journey has taken us in multiple interesting directions, looking at various models for supportive seniors’ housing, but also affordable housing in general and age-friendly communities that provide the supports and services that people need to successfully age in their community for as long as possible. Stay tuned for more information about this and other PSVA initiatives next month.

Wendy MacMillan has an eclectic career background in technology, strategic consulting and association management that informs her role as a Director for the PSVA and as a member of the Elgin St Thomas Age Friendly Community Advisory Committee. She is also a grandparent, a traveler, a lover of the arts, and grateful to be living in Port Stanley.