Cohousing concept moving forward in Qualicum Beach

There are two projects currently on the table; info session for one of them on Friday

Qualicum Beach’s duelling cohousing projects are moving steadily ahead.

This weekend, the Valterra Village Cohousing Planning Group is sponsoring an information night and Getting It Built workshop weekend with B.C. expert Ronaye Matthew and Margaret Critchlow, founding director of the Canadian Senior Cohousing Society.

A project of the Qualicum Beach Cohousing Society, Valterra is located on 16.2 hectares on Laburnum Road near Qualicum Beach Elementary, where the plan is to build an eco-friendly development of 25 to 40 homes with a large community garden and community centre owned and managed by the home owners.

With some of the land in the Agricultural Land Reserve, “the goal is to build one of the greenest communities in Canada,” said society member Ruth Adler.

The weekend kicks off with a free evening of information with Matthew, who the QBCS said is recognized as one of the province’s most experienced and knowledgeable cohousing consultant/developers. She has worked on a number of cohousing projects throughout southwest B.C.

Everyone is invited to the Qualicum Beach Civic Centre this Friday, Feb. 13, 7-9 p.m., to learn more about the concept of cohousing and how the project will work.

Then a workshop will run Saturday and Sunday at Rotary Hall (211 Fern Road), for $75 per person or $125 per couple when Matthew will delve deeper into the steps from concept to design and completion of a project.

The QBCS describes a cohousing development “as a community of like-minded individuals who together build a community that is owned and operated by its residents.”

It is a relatively new model in B.C. but growing fast, with the Canadian Cohousing Network listing 19 projects in development or completed in B.C.

The workshop will also talk about senior housing alternatives.

For more information visit www.valterravillage.ca or contact Ruth at aerie@xplornet.ca or 250-752-0833.

• Across Laburnum another cohousing project, newly named Aldermuir, is also moving along.

Gary Morrison, president and founder of the Vancouver based Livewell Cohousing which is building Aldermuir, said the goal is to “submit high-level plans to the town” this month and start construction in early 2016, finishing in the spring of 2017.

He describes cohousing as “physically and legally the same as a townhouse strata project, socially it is a more community oriented spirit like cooperative housing.”

Livewell is focusing on the hot local topic of attracting and retaining young families in Qualicum Beach to help drive the project.

“Qualicum Beach can’t afford to lose another school. Building family-friendly neighbourhoods that are within walking distance of the school will help,” he said.

At past informational events they have brought in speakers who raised children in cohousing communities and “how the cohousing approach works for everything from neighbours/parents sharing home learning, to neighbours sharing baby-sitting, to having someone to share a tea with after a long day of juggling,” Morrison said in a news release.

“Too many parents are stressed to the max and struggling to find balance with work, home, kids, money, family, personal goals and everything else that arrives unexpectedly on the journey. Living in a community with people who get-it can help – a lot.”

He said they aim to recreate a village atmosphere, attracting people of all ages into a single neighbourhood.

For more information on Aldermuir visit www.facebook.com/PQBCohousing.

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