Cohousing in Qualicum Beach — and then there were two

The concept has been talked about in the region for decades

One cohousing project shifting into a regular development in Qualicum Beach leaves just two in the works.

Cohousing was described by one local proponent as ‘physically and legally the same as a townhouse strata project, (but) socially it is a more community oriented spirit like cooperative housing.’

The concept has been talked about in the region for decades and became a hot topic in 2014 when Livewell Cohousing’s Parksville proposal moved to Qualicum Beach and eventually dropped the cohousing aspect after several rezoning denials.

While that proposal — now called Alder Crossing — continues in the early stages as a fee simple residential project on Laburnum at Claymore Road, the oldest proposal in the area is still slowly brewing a few hundred meters up the road.

“This is really interesting land and we’d really like to see younger people here, and maybe some older people, to carry on a connection with the land,” said Ron Buechert who co-owns 40 acres up Laburnum close to the Rupert Road corner.

His partner in the Qualicum Beach Cohousing Society’s (QBCS) “Valterra” project, Ruth Adler, has been talking about cohousing for at least 20 years he said.

“Livewell tried to do it too fast for Qualicum Beach,” Buechert said, suggesting they scared council by not building a relationship first.

He said that while Livewell’s concept was more like a social, European retirement community, they imagine a much more agricultural community.

“We want to foster a strong connection between the people and the land,” he said. “You don’t have to participate in it directly, but you have to respect it.”

Their land is currently zoned agricultural, with a 50 acre minimum lot size that would need rezoning, but Buechert said there are none of the sensitive wetland or habitat issues that complicated the Livewell proposal and they have been in regular contact with town staff and appear to be on the right track.

They imagine a small cluster of around 30 units on about three acres, less than a tenth of the land, with the rest of it dedicated, perhaps with long term covenants, to things like agriculture or other more natural uses.

Literally surrounded by wilderness including forestry company land, forested town land and protected agricultural and Crown land, Buechert said their property was logged 100 years ago.

That means it is currently considered a crucial “recruitment forest,” he said, explaining that at 80 to 100 years “a new forest explodes with important biological diversity. The owls have moved in and there’s all kinds of red listed (endangered or threatened) species.”

He said that while people living on the property would have an impact, “it would be much less disruptive than developers clearing it.”

They are far from working out the final details but Buechert said they would like to see some affordable housing component, saying they’d happily sell their “asset below value to achieve other goals,” namely protecting the land.

While there is nothing currently scheduled, the Valterra proponents (www.valterravillage.ca) are going through a recent feasibility study in fine detail and are always looking for new support.

A third group of cohousing proponents that were unhappy with the loss of the Livewell proposal are also trying to gather like minded people for a third project. At this very beginning stage, they are hosting regular casual coffee gatherings to find interested people. Search ‘Oceanside Cohousing’ at meetup.com to connect with them.

Just Posted

Third delivery of building units for 222 Corfield in Parksville arrives April 26

Vehicles should expect intermittent, single-lane alternating traffic

City of Parksville to look into cost, process of beach cleanup

Cleanup would include removing rotten logs, adding sand

BC Ferries to pilot selling beer and wine on select routes

Drinks from select B.C. breweries and VQA wineries to be sold on Swartz Bay to Tsawwassen route

RCMP ask Parksville Qualicum Beach businesses for help battling thieves

‘With your assistance forensic evidence could be located for prosecution’

Early morning break-in at Parksville Dairy Queen

Oceanside RCMP said incident occurred at 1:50 a.m. on April 17

VIDEO: Alberta man creates world’s biggest caricature

Dean Foster is trying to break the world record for a radio show contest

B.C. senior sentenced for sexually abusing special-needs granddaughter

73-year-old Cortes Island man will go to jail for three years

Howe Sound Queen sailing toward retirement

Vessel now up for auction ends regular runs between Crofton and Vesuvius at the beginning of June

Should B.C. lower speed limits on side roads to 30 km/h?

Vancouver city councillor wants to decrease speed limits along neighbourhood side roads

Lawsuit eyed over union-only raise for B.C. community care workers

‘Low-wage redress’ leaves 17,000 employees out, employers say

Landlord of alleged Okanagan shooter recounts deadly day

Tony Friesen was working in one of the units of his Penticton building when he heard shots

Foreign national arrested in connection to thefts at YVR

A woman, 60, is being held in police custody as Richmond RCMP investigate

Police pursue pesky porker on Vancouver Island

‘This was allegedly not the pig’s first escape’

Westjet tries again to dismiss proposed class-action lawsuit alleging discrimination

Former flight attendant claims airline broke contractual promise to create harassment-free workplace

Most Read