Our final stop of co-housing complexes in B.C. was at Cranberry Commons, which is actually right next door to my daughter’s townhouse complex in Burnaby. http://www.cranberrycommons.ca/
This multi-generational complex has been around since 2001.
There are 22 units, ranging from a bachelor to a four bedroom.
The complex is right off a main artery street with lots of shopping and recreation facilities within walking distance.
This complex is made up of multiple stories and each unit has it’s own balcony.
The parking for this complex is underground with a wash station for cars, electric vehicle charging stations, bike parking and storage.
We didn’t get to see their common area because it was in use while we were on our tour, but they had gardening, composting in the space surrounding the complex.
There was also a shared/common balcony space to book as well as office space.
Many of the cohousing complexes have mission or values statements like the one below.
“Our cohousing community was created by people who wanted to design housing that would support greater social interconnectness while making efficient use of resources.
In addition to its social focus, Cranberry Commons holds respect for the environment as one of its highest values. We have attempted to incorporate sustainability into every aspect of the community design, starting with the selection of the site right up to the solar hot water panels that were installed on the roof.”
The unit we visited in this complex was a two bedroom with a newly renovated kitchen.
Our B.C. travels also took us to Sooke on Vancouver Island where we toured Harbourside and West Wind Harbour cohousing (currently under construction, with units for sale).
Harbourisde is a seniors cohousing complex that has been around since 2013. Our tour guide Margaret is a strong advocate of cohousing helping other communities to form and develop their complexes.
Harbourside has 31 units and 44 people living there.
In four years, 12 units have sold for varying reasons but they have an interested email list of 500 people.
The unit we visited was purchased at $427,000 and is currently valued at $570,000.
The average size of a unit is 960 square feet.
Location, location, location:
This complex is on the ocean and the way the complex was built allows for everyone to have an amazing ocean view. It’s scaled and multi-leveled. The unit we toured felt spacious because of the light and windows. The balcony also added an extra space to gather.
The common space:
The common space at Harbourside was built around an existing building – a former captain’s quarters – which was a large beautiful, open room. Community groups even use the space for meditation, yoga, environmental group meetings and other activities. The rooms for visitors are right off the common space and there’s also a library in that section of the complex.
Well organized and everything had it’s place:
Everyone has a job to do and shared the work for the common space and the grounds. From recycling to composting to a games room and a library and a movie room, everything was well run.
Here’s a few photos of the new seniors cohousing complex under construction. This will be the second one in Sooke!
While out in B.C., we visited a lovely multi-generational complex with 31 units, simply called Vancouver cohousing. Built just three years ago in east Vancouver, our tour guide Olive toured us around the complex and showed us her unit. Olive and her family have lived in the complex since it was built. Top five highlights … Continue reading “Vancouver Cohousing – A community in photos”
While out in B.C., we visited a lovely multi-generational complex with 31 units, simply called Vancouver cohousing. Built just three years ago in east Vancouver, our tour guide Olive toured us around the complex and showed us her unit. Olive and her family have lived in the complex since it was built.
Top five highlights from this complex:
1. Community involvement
Everyone at this complex knew each other, and you could see that people really did care for each other. This complex had regular family dinners and the place really had a “one big family” feel to it.
2. Unique, modern layout
This complex is in the middle of a big city but you wouldn’t know it. The design and layout made it feel like a community within a community.
Having a gate at the entrance and then an open concept inside made it feel secure and allowed for the children in the complex to feel free to roam.
3. Lots of common space
This complex had a large number of common spaces – dining room, TV room, patio, sewing room, play room, yoga room, workshop, office area. We loved the wide variety of common spaces here.
4. The gardens!
There were gardens at individual units on the bottom level of the complex. But there was also a larger roof top garden on top of the common area building.
The gardens are accessible and everywhere!
5. Compact spaces
The design of the storage space in Olive’s unit was amazing. The storage under the stairs was custom built.
Although the space is small, it provided a lot of privacy.
The tour of Vancouver cohousing offered us a unique view of a new multigenerational complex. You can read more about this complex on their website.
What is cohousing? The Cohousing Association of the United States, says it’s an intentional community of private homes clustered around shared space.
All of the folks we visited with on the tours love the cohousing concept. One of the people we met is actually moving from one cohousing complex in the city to another one on Vancouver Island because they love it so much! Any downsides (not seeing old friends as much) were clearly out weighed by the upsides (new community and new friends)!
All of the complexes had 22-31 units and for some they found that it was a bit too many (multigenerational 31 units) and others thought more homes would be better (seniors 31 units).The issue was that getting to know all the neighbours was difficult for the size, while more households meant the work was more easily shared.
What we found…
The first multi-generational cohousing we visited was busy (31 families and 23 children live there). It had a great layout and a great vibe for families. Lots of people were out socializing and doing lots of different activities.
The second multigenerational cohousing had 22 families and was quieter (mostly adults and teenagers) and the common spaces that we saw looked better managed.
The hosts said that they knew every family and everyone by name.
Both of these groups got together at least once a week or more for group potlucks or dinners and special events (Canada day bbq, Halloween etc.)
The senior’s complex was very organized and common spaces appeared to be better managed and more extensive. They also had regular weekly meals and other activities.
All the individual units in each complex were beautiful (some with ocean views) and built with amazing small space living designs in the kitchen, bedrooms and living rooms. Most were open conceptin the kitchen and living room that gave it a more spacious feel. The complexes are all environmentally friendly and the seniors complexes are Green Gold (environmental standard).
Some had rental units and there were mixed reviews about how those were managed.
There were extra guests suites/bedrooms in all of the cohousing complexes and the seniors complex actually had a caregiver suite that also doubled as guest space.There was surprisingly lots of space in common areas for numerous types of activities– dining, libraries, music room, workout area, workshop for woodworking (used trees cleared to make furniture for common spaces), craft areas, lounge areas for group visiting- indoor and outdoor, meeting and office spaces, bike storage, composting/recycling, gardens, laundry facilities, parking, storage etc.
The homes ranged from bachelor to 4 bedrooms. Layouts allincluded stairs and elevators. We did not see any all-covered layouts for common spaces but apparently they are in existence. www.windsong.bc.ca
People’s relationship with rules is very different. Setting up too many rules that never get used is not necessary when … a conversation will do. Having said that there does need to be clear rules around things like smoking, pets, visitors, booking systems etc.
There are many cohousing groups that have posted their rules online that are available so that we do not have to spend unnecessary hours creating our own. We are not all that special that we have to spend hours upon hours creating our own!
Cohousing is not for everyone and there maybe turn over in the first couple of years. It was recommended that once you make a significant investment that you stick out the process and then sell afterward if you decide it is not for you (this happens rarely). Once invested and you decide you want to sell, the market dictates the sale. What we learned is that there is waiting lists for all the complexes we visited (prices for Vancouver and Vancouver Island ranged between $400,000-$570,000 with an ocean view). The seniors complex that is only four years old in Sooke has an interested list of 500 people.
There is an interview process for new people interested and includes attending socials and committee meetings prior to buying to make sure it is a good fit.
Once established, regular meetings are necessary but it is recommended to also have a social in between where business is not discussed so you are not just always having meetings.
Not everyone has to attend all events and not everyone is interested in socializing. Involvement is an individual choice.
A credit system for helping out with common space tasks is useful but there is no penalty for not doing them.
There should be sound-proofing in each unit.
Guest rooms are important and usually they are free (or by donation) for short term and a fee may be applied for long term use.
When starting a cohousing complex, hire a project manager if you can and there are consultants available to assist in development. Other cohousing folks also recommended using a credit union for financing because they have been supportive of the cohousing model.
It is important to have a few people who can facilitate meeting so that the burden does not fall unto just one or two people.
Hire people when you need to so that you don’t burn out your people.
What a great turnout at both our Public Information Session on June 19th and yesterday’s first full-day workshop: “Cohousing- An Option for You!”
After a full day of talking about the concept of cohousing and the realities of aging in our current situation we have more than doubled our interested and committed members!
We will repeat the sessions in the fall when everybody is home from holidays but hope to have enough engagement (we are suggesting 12 households) by the end of the year so that more serious planning can start.
Where will it be? What will it look like? What will we do to build “intentional community? “
We have a launched an exciting journey. You should think about joining us!
Dates and locations are now confirmed for both our information session and our one-day workshop.
A perfect time to get general information about Cohousing, to meet the group or to find out a little more about our plans for the project. The session will be open and informal, with lots of opportunity to ask questions and connect with others interested in Cohousing.
Place: McEwen School of Architecture Room SA122 (first floor) When: Wednesday June 19, 2019 at 6:30 pm
A deeper dive into aging, aging strategies and planning ahead, and how Cohousing may be a good option for dealing with that.
Place: McEwen School of Architecture Room SA122 (first floor) When: Thursday June 20, 2019 10:00 am to 4:00 pm
Resource materials and lunch provided. Cost $35.00 per person Facilitator: Janet Gasparini
It is important that you pre-register so that we know how many people are attending, and we know how much food to bring in.
If you are able to pay the $35.00 per person workshop fee by email transfer, you can send it to email@example.com. The funds will transfer to Debbie Munn, who is acting as our bookkeeper/treasurer.
Otherwise you’re welcome to pay the day of the event (cash or cheque only)
Either way, please be sure to register to let us know that you’re planning on attending.
Want to learn a bit more about Cohousing? Have questions about the proposed project in Sudbury? Mark your calendars for the following events.
General Information Meeting Wednesday June 19 at 6:30 PM to 8:00 PM McEwen School of Architecture – Elm Street and Elgin Street Come in the front doors on Elm Street and look for signs to find the session
This will be an informal meet and greet and information session with lots of opportunity to ask questions. We’ll be explaining our vision for the project, and answering questions on Cohousing in general.
Workshop on Aging Strategies and Cohousing Thursday June 20 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM School of Architecture – Elm Street and Elgin Street Come in the front doors on Elm Street and look for signs to find the session Includes supplies, resources and lunch Cost: $35.00
This will be a much more detailed look at aging, aging strategies and how Cohousing might be a solution for many older adults.
Introducing Cohousing – a plan for now and the future
Aging Out Strategy – the realities of growing older in our current environment
Economics and Options – cost considerations in our future
Building Intentional Community – an antidote to social isolation
We’ll be providing information shortly on how to sign up and to reserve a spot. Stay tuned.
We’re also considering repeating this workshop on a weekend for those who may not be able to attend on a weekday. If this is something you’d like to see, please contact us and let us know.
A great article by Brian Iler and Claudio Pedrero about the Senior Cohousing model and possible legal models for development. Originally prepared for the Ontario Bar Association’s Real Property Law & Elder Law program on March 22, 2019