With thanks to all who participated in our virtual focus groups, here’s #1 in a series of reports on what we heard and what we think we learned. This process is on-going and we hope you feel free to talk back to us about our findings. You may agree or disagree but all dialogue is helpful.

This first group was about community design in which we wanted to explore the meaning of “Aging in place” and it’s importance to you, and what kind of community would that be. Our impression is that the ability to remain within your community as you move through the three seasons of retirement is the very thing that many of you find lacking in other adult lifestyle communities.

We think that Meaford Haven, as the first of a number of Three-Seasons Communities will be the kind of place we all want to retire to.

There were a few surprises, however. Have a look at the questions we raised and our summary of the responses we got.


Virtual Focus Group #1 – Community design

 One premise of Meaford Haven is that “Aging in place” is a good thing. That there should be no reason why you should have to move away from your friends and neighbours just because you got old. One of our goals is to design a community that makes it possible, in fact, easy to stay. Tell us how important the following community features are to you, on a scale of 1-5, with 5 being most desirable or important to you in deciding to live here.  Obviously one can add many features if one ignores cost. Since  you are going to guide us with your answers, please bear in mind that the cost of community features will be absorbed into the home prices. To help guide your thinking we have included a $ value to each. $ is low cost, $$$$$ is very costly.


Here are the buildings we propose, and their purposes

1 – Medical/commercial building: Not surprisingly, virtually everyone agrees that on-site medical facilities are very desirable. A small portion of the younger respondents (age 50-60) found it less important; but most respondents in this age bracket, around 80%, were in favour. You’ll be happy to know that the land has been set aside and plans are underway with the Regional Medical Authority. Score: 5

2 – Mid-rise (three-storey) condo apartments: Looks like condos are going to be very popular in Meaford Haven. Most of you indicated a very high preference and age didn’t seem to matter, demand is fairly evenly spread over the full age range (50 – 80) Score: 4-5

3 – Attached garden bungalow homes: It looks like the attached garden bungalow homes are going to sell out quickly. The preference for this type was heavily weighted toward the fifty to sixty year olds – those younger people still have the energy for it we guess! But if 75% were the young set, the rest were 65 – 75 year olds. Think we’re getting some clues as to the changing nature of aging?  Score: 4-5

4 – Retirement residence: Here’s why we think the Three-Seasons concept is right on the money: The majority in all age groups rated this as most desirable, most giving this a 4 or a 5. The older people showed the strongest preference, naturally, and the youngest were about evenly split on the matter. But everyone agreed to some extent that a retirement residence belongs here.   Score: 5

5 – Community centre/clubhouse: As we expected, virtually everyone wants a community center, and 75% want it a lot! We were surprised to see that around 15% were indifferent to the idea. Maybe they’ll change their minds when they see what gets built! There will be more on that in a future report.   Score: 5


Pedestrian friendliness

 1 – Limited car access – only two points of entry to a road that feels more like a driveway, with traffic calming measures $

Here’s a puzzle for you, nearly a third of respondents were indifferent to this. Fortunately the other two-thirds found having a nearly private road highly desirable. We’re glad because we’re committed to pedestrian-friendliness and safety. Who wouldn’t be? Score: 2-3

2 – Hand rails along main pedestrian paths $$$$$

Here’s another surprise, hardly anyone cares about hand rails! Okay. Score: 1-2

3 – Covered walkways between buildings wherever possible $$$$$

Slightly more of you seem to like the idea of covered walkways, but not enough to spend the money. You sure? Score: 1-2

4 – Strolling paths throughout community $$$

On the other hand everybody likes strolling paths. Well, nearly everybody; there are about six people who don’t stroll. Bet they don’t golf either. Score: 4-5

5 – Buildings and home clusters arranged to minimize walking distance $$

Nearly everyone thinks it’s a good idea. And once again, age has nothing to do with the preference. Convenience counts. Score: 5

6 – Fall-proofing measures at building entrances $$

Another surprise, only slightly more of you think fall-proofing is important than don’t, but the ones who do tend to be 60 and older. There’s a good chance we’ll be fall-proofing certain areas. Score: 3-5

7 – Pedestrian access to golf course $$

Once again, who’d have thought that hardly anyone would care if they can walk to the golf course? In fact, we’re suspicious of this one. Golfers, we urge you to speak out, come forth and assert your rights! Score: 1-2


Garden plots

There will be more on this subject in another VFG report, but we were surprised again at the responses. And really glad we asked.

 1 – Dedicated garden space for individuals $$

Almost as many people showed extreme indifference to this idea, as showed extreme enthusiasm for it. We got ones, or fives, not much in the middle. Okay, not all of us are gardeners, but those who like gardening, seem to like it a lot. For you there will be plots to plant. Score: 1 or 5

2 – Raised beds $$$

The gardeners among us don’t seem to think raised beds are necessary, especially if they have to pay extra for them. Okay, get out your knee pads and stools. Unless enough of you protest there will be no raised beds. Score: 2

3 – Storage sheds $$$$

Once again, nope, not needed. Score: 1

4 – Water spigots $$$

The majority appears to find the availability of water beneficial to gardening; definitely something we would provide. Score: 5

5 – Garden club $

Our worst idea. In a hail of rotten tomatoes and other objects we withdraw the idea of a garden club. Objectively, there was some interest, but mostly of the negative sort. A garden Club is probably something that happens naturally, organically, not as a proscribed programme. Aren’t you glad we asked? Score: 1


What do you consider important?

 1 – Permanent woodland with preserved species

Bless your hearts, this one is overwhelmingly positive. We admit to being biased. We delight in all the rare Butternut trees we’re going to preserve. We love nature and take joy in the fact that you do too. Score: 5

2 – Woodland stream

See above. This is going to be great! Score: 5

3 – Benches along paths $$

Perhaps we should tone down our excitement, but again, benches scored overwhelmingly positive. It’s just as we had hoped! Score: 5

4 – Naturalscaping – no invasive species allowed $

Again, yes, yes, yes. We all seem to be on the same page here. Nature got it right the first time, why mess with her? Score:5

5 – Wild flowers and meadow grasses instead of lawns $$

Well, it looks like we’re evenly split on lawns versus wild flowers and meadow grasses. Maybe we’ll do some of both just so everyone can be happy! Score: 2-4

6 – A tree planted in the name of every initial resident $$

Whoops. Almost no one cares if they have their name on a tree. We’ll plant the trees anyway and maybe ask again later! Score: 1

7 – Green energy sources $ – $$$$$

We must have asked the question wrong. Against most other research we’ve seen this nature loving group shows an indifference towards green energy sources. Score: 1-2

8 – Green construction methods $-$$$$$

And green construction methods. Could it be the cost? Do we need another group session on this? Score: 1-2

9 – Energy Star appliances $

We question the above because when it came to Energy Star appliances, which don’t add much to the cost, they were highly favoured, almost everyone wants them. Score:4-5


    So, put your responses to this report here. Nothing's cast in cement yet.

    Verbatims. You might be interested to read the comments we got back. It’s all private, nobody is identified or edited, so feel free to read and respond.

    -Aging in Place to me would mean being able to live in an adult community. Firstly in a house (townhome) then to a condo and finally a retirement residence

    -Aging in place means a space where I can progress from fully independent living to assisted/total care if needed.

     -Aging in place means the Nursing Home isn’t too far away for one of us to visit the other.

     -Medical/commercial facilities close by.

     -Aging in place means that the necessary medical facilities are there, a social place that has different activities for different levels of people. Possible social group outings and a place where there is a environment of feeling accepted, while at the same time, not pressured to do something that you would not be interested in doing.

     -Most places for seniors isolate themselves from the community. In a place like Meaford I would prefer NOT to have a gated community (people can always have alarm systems in their homes). It is wonderful to be able to transition from a home to a unit in a condo that has medical attention, but the placement of such a building is key – you don’t want people to be reminded all the time that there days are numbered or that it is inevitable that everyone will need this facility. Also, please don’t assume that just because everyone is older they are also so social that everything is done in groups (garden club being one). Let these evolve on the initiative of people living there. Wherever the site and homes are, I would not want to live cheek by jowl with neighbours with no privacy. Homes should back onto greenspace, a stream (not a golf course), or woods – frontage is less essential.

     -To have a sport field for those who want to play a pick-up sport such as soccer

    -Club house and activity center is great..socials are important. Chance to meet neighbours, etc. Tennis courts, golf… Aging means enjoying the things we never had a chance to do b4.

     -what do you mean by limited car access? would bungalows have attached garages?

    -would there be underground parking for the apartments?

     -don’t want it to look like an ‘Old folks home’ !

     -Ample and convenient parking for visitors. Double car garages on the bungalows. A pool, exercise room, games area and meeting/party room in the Clubhouse. Ability to create a “activity” (woodworking, ceramics etc) area but any equipment would come from the residents after the facility is complete to ensure there is sufficient interest and keep costs down. Possible grants for equipment etc could be explored. Emphases should be placed on an active lifestyle and encouraging maintaining activity. Community Centre could be attached to the Condo Apartments to make it easier for those residents to use the facilities the bungalow residents would be able to walk the further distance. Bungalow back yards should be big enough for hot-tubs. Medical/commercial complex should be positioned so that general public has access as well, to ensure they are viable top-notch facilities which will ensure the complex residents use them.

     -Accessibility features, automatic openers on outer doors, ramps etc for wheelchairs. Buildings and environments which enable for the largest numbers of people as is possible to age in place for as long as possible in a productive and meaningful manner with full attention given to all aspects of their being.

     -maybe a community van to take residents to shopping, or into collingwood or owen sound . trips organised by office or rec centre staff.

    -a medical clinic room could be part of the club house, or in a dedicated room in the mid rise building, so that a visiting dr, nurse, OT, etc could keep a regular clinic schedule, same with barber and foot clinic

    -inground pool flower beds in front of homes garages with homes

    -An indoor pool and exercise area is a must.

    -This is a good start!

     -If living in a self contained bungalow services of outdoor maintenance help available if needed. eg. snow shovelling, eaves trough cleaning etc.

     -would like to see the development into existing natural amenities, i.e. Bruce Trail (if in that area) Georgian Trail, woodland, existing Meaford Golf Club. Basically to work with the natural setting. I love the landscaping at Lora Bay with mulch, grasses and native plants rather than grass.

     -the simpler the better-a few amenities are nice but some can be a lot trouble to maintain

     -Considering your location in Meaford a \”general store \” concept would be very advantageous. There is a reasonable hospital in Meaford and a well equipped hospital in Owen Sound and Collingwood hospital.

    -Detached bungalows of 1500-2000 sq ft.Would be good. Something on the design of the Ironwood development by laverne Roges in Meaford.

     -I think that if you had a bit of garden (flowers) space at each bungalow that would be enough. People that have a problem walking unassisted usually have a cane or walker so rails are an unneeded expense

     -pets (maximum 2 small( ie 2 small dogs or 2 cats) should be allowed, a lot of single people have pets and no other family and therefore are very important !

     -A pet Friendly community is very important to me. Will pets be allowed? Any restrictions? Would there be an offleash area? Would/could yards be fenced in?

     -Also I do enjoy gardening. It is a great satisfaction for me to be able to sit in my back yard and enjoy the fruits of my labour. With that said…. I doubt if I would get the same satisfaction from a community plot so I\’m on the fence with that. Just my observation.

    -Would golf carts be allowed? Might be any easy and safe way to get around in the community

    -Please let me know when I can reserve a unit.

    -How about adding a small supermarket on the property? It would provide a convienence to the residents and also possibly generate additional revenue.

    -A meaningful difference to me would include as little steps as possible, railings on stairs and a single level housing unit.

    -A Rec center with pool, lounge, small work out area, kitchen etc.is essential. As we age, involvment in activies (exercising,socializing,life long learning) is important in maintaining good health. A community center provides such opportunities.

    -Aging in place provides me with security and a feeling of well being.

     -The clubhouse should be a place to socialize and not just for golfers. Not everyone plays golf nor wants to pay for it for others. Similarly, a lot of seniors get past being able to physically play golf so not a huge deal. In an ideal world, buy hottubs in bulk and have one in each yard with a nice gas barbeque bricked in!

     -Important to keep costs down. Covered walkways and hand rails should be limited. You will discourage able-bodied people if it looks too oriented to people with disabilities. Accessibility features can be added in if owner chooses and can pay for them.

    -Space in independent units (a cupboard) where an elevator to a lower (higher floor) could be installed if owner chooses a(at owner\’s cost)

    -Easy access into units.

    -Accessible bathrooms — high than usual toilets, showers which could accommodate bath chairs etc.

    -I think this should look like a “regular” neighbourhood, no need to advertise it a retiree neighbourhood. It should blend into the neighbouring streets, not stand out.

     -Please add a swimming pool for swimming and excercises.

    -Lots of day light (ie windows and/or sky lights) in garden bungalows. Also important are pleasant views of a natural landscape and perhaps a private area to sit outdoors such as a terrace or deck.

    -A shared garden to sew and plant.

    -Club house to include space to sew, paint or do crafts.

    -Aging in the same community is ideal.

    -Please provide residency costs.

    -Thanks for asking my opinion!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

     -Transportation for the seniors that arent. able to drive to Owen Sound for doctors appointments or to go shopping.

    -I live in Sunset Village in Collingwood and the bus is just outside my door. I am just renting and waiting to see what Meaford Haven has to offer. I enjoy music and dancing and conversation and I am seventy seven but I don,t intend to be old but would like the services if needed.

     -Community wireless access points.  Hardwired network and video distribution throughout units.  Community patio/cafe/barbeque/wood fired oven/fire pit.

     –Lots of choice for bungalows with around 1200 sq ft.Definitly a club house or cummunity centre with a pool in and outdoors. Bike trails and walking trails.