Locals in Grand Forks, B.C. consider housing concept

Stuart McKinnon and Wolf Willow discussed the concept of cohousing and its application locally.

Wolf Willow (left) and Stuart McKinnon from Nelson’s Middle Road Cohousing Community were at Holy Trinity Anglican Church on Saturday to discuss the concept of cohousing.

Wolf Willow (left) and Stuart McKinnon from Nelson’s Middle Road Cohousing Community were at Holy Trinity Anglican Church on Saturday to discuss the concept of cohousing.

Stuart McKinnon and Wolf Willow were in Grand Forks at Holy Trinity Anglican Church  on Saturday evening to discuss the concept of cohousing and it could be something that is applied locally.

The couple came from Nelson’s Middle road Cohousing Community and said that cohousing is a form of intentional community and has six characteristics.

“First, it has a participatory process,” explained McKinnon. “No one is making all the decisions and telling you how it’s going to be. As a part of being in the community, it means you’re going to be participating.”

Cohousing also includes a neighbourhood design, privately-owned homes that are supplemented by common areas, resident management and as mentioned, decisions aren’t made hierarchically and could be done by consensus.

McKinnon also said that there are communal communities that generate an economy together but that doesn’t fall into the realm of cohousing.

Rod Gustafson thought that his Broadacres Care Facility could be used for cohousing – he said his complex is fully-operational and is in a ideal location.

“The location is close to town, there’s close to 10 acres (four hectares) there and there’s quite the outbuildings on the property already,” said Gustafson, adding there was also a fire suppression system.

“There’s the main residence, which could be opened up for assisted living and could be part of the community as well.”

Gustafson said Broadacres also had a gym, a workshop and a number of barns, which could be utilized. Habitat for Humanity Boundary’s Executive Director and Building Co-ordinator Rick Friesen was also on hand and saw potential for cohousing as well.

“I would see the potential of incorporating the low income housing ownership model that we provide together with the cohousing project as long as the rest of the residents or participants of the cohousing program were agreeable to having low-income families living in their midst,” Friesen said.

Friesen also noted that for the majority of low-income seniors in the area, home ownership isn’t a practical reality and low income subsidized rental probably is.

“They still need community and if we can incorporate that into a community model, I can see a lot of benefit to that,” he said.

Ed MacLeod, project manager of the Ponderosa EcoVillage proposal at Christina Lake, said if approved by regulators, Ponderosa will use co-housing once it becomes established.

“We’ll have 37 lots for sale, if everything goes according to (plan), eight of those acres will be dedicated to cohousing and they’ll be hopefully creating the community waste disposal facility, similar to what’s in Christina Lake now at the arts centre,” MacLeod said and went on to say there would be consensus-style decision making.