Urban Strategies was retained by the City of Markham in 2021 to develop a set of Age-Friendly Design Guidelines to address the needs of residents of all ages – from families with young children, to older adults and those looking to age-in-place. The MAFDG provides design direction for new and redeveloping communities, focusing on three scales– the neighbourhood, the building and site, and the unit – based on the recognition that each positively contributes to how we live, work, and play in our communities.
To ensure that the lived experiences of Markham residents of all ages were integrated into the guidelines, a robust engagement plan was developed that focused on ensuring participation from a variety of stakeholders. Through one-on-one and small group meetings with youth, families, older adults, designers, architects, developers, and aging-in-place experts – our team was able to get a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities associated with the daily experiences of living, working and playing in Markham. In addition to this targeted engagement, broad city-wide engagement was also undertaken using a mix of online and analog tools. These included online and paper surveys offered in English, Tamil and Simplified Chinese and the 0-99 Design Challenge, an online engagement activity that solicited innovative age-friendly solutions to local design challenges.
Complimenting the public and stakeholder engagement, a detailed policy scan and Best Practice and case study review were completed prior to the preparation of the guidelines. This included analysis of over 20 local, national and international case studies – including guidelines, strategies, and policies related to age-friendly communities and age-friendly design.
The highly-graphic and AODA compliant final guideline document has been developed to provide guidance for the development industry, designers, and City staff in the preparation and subsequent review of development applications. The Guidelines may also be used by City staff to inform planning frameworks and in the design and construction of new parks, public spaces, community facilities and streetscapes.