Seniors group CARP to hold senior-specific federal Q and A

CARP will also soon get a new chair

Suffice to say, the first day in October is going to be a busy month for the Richmond/Delta branch of CARP.

The advocate group for the mature members of the community is having its AGM, will celebrate National Seniors Day and is hosting a federal election town hall meeting.

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The same day, Oct. 1, will also usher in the era of a new chair, businessman Geoff Cowman, who is set to take over the role from Dr. Vic Pauls, who has presided over the growth of the chapter over the last year to 1019 members across Richmond and Delta.

The AGM and election town hall will be held at Pioneer Church on the South Arm United Church grounds at No. 3 Road and Steveston Highway.

Scheduled to appear at the town hall — and most likely face questions on matters affecting seniors and/or people reaching retirement — will be candidates representing all four parties, including: Joe Peschisolido (Liberal), Laura-Leah Shaw (Green), Scott Stewart (NDP) and Alice Wong (Conservative).

“We are going to ask them to focus specifically on the seniors,” said CARP’s chair-elect Cowman, a seniors residence consultant.

“Each party will get five minutes to speak and then we will open it up to the floor and take questions from the audience, which will be asked through the moderator.

“Each candidate will then have 60 seconds to give their answer. We will do this for about an hour.”

The meeting is open to the public, but space is very limited and CARP members will have first preference on seats. If you are interested in attending, you must register first at 604-240-8085 to reserve your seat.

Meanwhile, as he prepares to take a step to the side, Pauls looked back on several successful events run by CARP’s local chapter over the last 12 months or so.

“Despite the fairly large and spread out geographical area that the chapter encompasses, (our) three major events…plus the one that (we) co-sponsored…were extremely well supported by members throughout the area,” said Pauls, a retired dentist.

“We had two wonderful Remembrance Day-themed concerts, run with the Vancouver Welsh Men’s Choir, and a Christmas Party finished off 2014, as well as a Valentine’s Party and the marvellous Seniors Health And Wellness Expo (S.H.A.R.E.) event…”

“Few people know that CARP is Canada’s largest and most successful advocacy group…and we fight strongly for issues that are important to all or that impact all seniors.”

Cowman is the sole nominee for the chair, with other nominees being Becky Herrmann, vice-chair, Jennifer Huang, secretary, and Bruce Opp, treasurer.Asked why he decided to offer his time as chair of the chapter, Cowman said there’s still a massive gap in connecting seniors to the services and help available, especially from all levels of government.

“I had a senior with me the other day, in tears because she couldn’t get the answer she needed from a government agency; she reached out to me through CARP,” said Cowman.

“There are lots of resources out there, but not everyone knows how to access them. What if there was a resource centre for seniors, specifically to get access to government agencies?

“Many seniors are not savvy on the Internet or on their phones; there’s a huge need to get this co-ordinated.”

Oct. 1 also serves at National Seniors Day and Pauls is urging people to take a moment to consider the seniors in their lives and communities.

“Although it is just one day, it is an important one,” Pauls said.

For more information on CARP Richmond, call 604-240-8085 or go to www.carp.ca/category/community/chapters/western/richmond.

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