I want to tell you about an idea that a group of folks here in Quesnel have been working on for about 20 months now: Cohousing. They have founded Cariboo Cohousing and are hoping to build the first cohousing community in the central Interior – an intentional community where residents own smaller homes while pooling resources and common areas.
Two recent housing surveys – conducted by the City of Quesnel in partnership with the CRD and the North Cariboo Seniors’ Council – identified the need for new housing initiatives in Quesnel. An exciting option is cohousing.
Cohousing is a concept which began in Denmark in the 1960s; today there are more than 150 such communities in North America and 25 such communities in B.C., either completed, under construction, or forming.
A cohousing community tends to feature between 10 and 35 households with a range of ages and family sizes. Residents live in their own independent households but come together to share resources and skills.
There’s generally a “common house” with shared spaces, like a kitchen and dining room, guest rooms and laundry. The concept is different from “co-living,” where people share a house. With cohousing, residents live in separate dwellings, which they own, but share resources, such as workshops, an art studio, an exercise room, and a garden. Community meals bring residents together for comradery and support.
Our group hopes to attract people of all ages. Intergenerational communities are vibrant and energetic, and developing relationships across age groups adds richness to our everyday experience. However, much can be said for a 55+ community. Living in a smaller, more sustainable home makes a lot of sense for people as they age and allows them to share resources that they might not need on a daily basis.
More importantly, residents in cohousing communities tend to support each other in times of need, potentially reducing the need for social services or health care, or even for a house sitter should someone want to travel.
A cohousing community is suitable for anybody who wants to feel like they belong in their neighbourhood, who enjoys giving people a hand and can learn to enjoy asking for a hand when they need it.
The group is actively seeking land in the Quesnel area, optimally within city limits, but potentially south of town, too. The easiest way for Cariboo Cohousing to build a community would be to buy land that already meets the zoning criteria — such as land which is zoned for multiple units. The problem is, all of that property in Quesnel that would be shovel-ready … has been bought. So, as other groups in the province have done, Cariboo Cohousing hopes to work with someone local who already owns land and is interested in selling to the group – or joining us!
For now, the group is looking to recruit participants who would be interested in living in a cohousing community. We hold regular Zoom calls to discuss the project and would welcome anyone who would like to know more.
For more information, contact Marguerite Hall at 250-747-3321 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The group is also on Facebook @CaribooCohousing.
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