Site secured in Qualicum Beach for cohousing project

Public launch is Sunday at 1 p.m. at the Qualicum Beach Civic Centre

It’s been a long journey, but LiveWell Cohousing has secured a property in Qualicum Beach.

“While there are many great sites ripe for development, virtually all owners either live out of town and are simply hanging onto their site for some future personal retirement plan, or have surprisingly unrealistic value expectations,” said LiveWell president and founder Gary Morrison.

The Vancouver based company initiated a cohousing project beside the Parksville Civic Centre in October 2013 for people looking for a more European sense of community, Morrison said at the time.

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

They had a huge initial interest, he said, but quickly noticed most of it was from Qualicum Beach people so they shifted their focus there.

They have now “entered a binding agreement” for a 19.88 acre site at 570 Laburnum Road, across the road from the new West Ridge houses and on the greenway.

Morrison said Qualicum Beach is a “hot bed” of cohousing with two existing groups and a lot of “people who’ve arrived at this conclusion independently.”

The main challenge now is bringing together the various groups and independent minded people. He said they will be hosting a number of casual events like coffee meet-ups to get people together “and hope they like each other.”

“Cohousing communities are often called socially sustainable because of the strong bonds built among members as they plan and design their future home,” he said in a news release.

He said he is essential that future owners participate in the planning and design process from the very beginning, ensuring that their project meets their needs, both individually and collectively. Each household owns a private residence – complete with kitchen – but also shares extensive common facilities with their neighbours, such as a dining room, children’s play rooms, workshops and vegetable gardens. He said cohousing projects reflect a traditional village-like design, which fits exactly with what Qualicum Beach’s long term plans call for. The idea would be a walk-in style village with cars pushed to the outside.

They are planning a first phase of about 25 homes, hoping to submit preliminary designs for approval in the spring with construction through 2016. They invite anyone interested to attend their public launch this Sunday, Oct. 5 at 1 p.m. at the Qualicum Beach Civic Centre. The one-hour event will be followed by a visit to the new site. Visit www.facebook.com/PQBcohousing or www.LiveWellCohousing.ca for more.