Livewell Cohousing project starter Yonas Jongkind explains the idea of cohousing to a group of interested individuals in Qualicum Beach along Laburnum Road Saturday afternoon where the development is slated to sit.

Cohousing in Qualicum Beach still in the early stages

Rezoning applications have been submitted to the Town of Qualicum

Fifteen potential buyers for one of Qualicum Beach’s two proposed cohousing developments attended a site tour Saturday afternoon rallying excitement for a new housing concept and way of life.

“Cohousing is a custom planned neighbourhood designed by future residents,” Yonas Jongkind explained to The NEWS Saturday from the west end of Laburnum Road, where the development is slated to go if it draws enough interest and investment.

Jongkind is a project starter with Livewell Cohousing’s Aldermuir location and he’s lived in two cohousing developments outside Qualicum Beach.

“It’s a progressive idea in today’s world,” he admits, noting the cohousing idea originated in Denmark in the late 1960s.

The Canadian Cohousing Network describes cohousing neighbourhoods as a return to the best of small-town communities, a traditional village, a close-knit neighbourhood and an altogether new response to social, economic and environmental challenges of the 21st century.

There are 19 cohousing developments under construction or complete at this time in British Columbia. Six are on Vancouver Island, two in Qualicum Beach.

Basically, those interested in becoming part of a cohousing neighbourhood come together and communally make planning and design decisions ultimately sharing the responsibility in managing and maintaining their jointly owned community.

While the project is in its infancy and developers haven’t purchased land yet, Jongkind said interest in the project is budding.

The 19.9-acre site in question is privately owned and will need to be rezoned prior to construction. Livewell has already submitted rezoning applications to the Town of Qualicum Beach and is hoping to have a successful third reading in May, close to the time they will purchase land if all goes as planned.

French Creek resident Jan Wilson attended last weekend’s site tour.

“It’s an awesome idea on so many levels,” Wilson said. “Anybody from any age group can benefit from living in a community.”

Wilson said a person can live in a regular strata development without ever meeting their neighbours, leading to loneliness and isolation.

She said she’s interested in cohousing because it boasts a sense of community where genuine relationships can foster — and also because the site is in “a serene, rural setting.”

The cost of housing is yet to be determined but Jongkind estimated a one-bedroom home may go for around $250,000. The site is looking to host 28 homes composed of 10 duplexes, two fourplexes and a few single family homes.

Livewell president Gary Morrison told The NEWS construction could start as early as 2016 and be complete by the spring of 2017.

Down the road, a second cohousing development is underway for a 16.2 hectare lot also along Laburnum Road near Qualicum Beach Elementary, spearheaded by the Valterra Village Cohousing Planning Group.

Morrison said the two groups, while they have a common cohousing goal, are going in “different directions.”

To their credit, he said, Valterra has a bold vision for sustainability and a stronger focus on farming whereas the Aldermuir group is more interested in “cocktails in the gazebo.”  For more information visit www.livewellcohousing.ca

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