The Cariboo Cohousing Group has been setting up an information table beside the Quesnel Art Gallery at the Quesnel Farmers’ Market. The group is holding an information session about co-housing Oct. 2. Facebook/Quesnel Cohousing photo

Quesnel group looking into developing a co-housing complex

An information session will take place Oct. 2 at the Quesnel Library

A neighbourhood is a place in which to grow, a place in which to thrive and a place in which to live.

Some neighbourhoods are communities where the residents share and care for each other. Would you call your neighbourhood a community? Do you know the names of everyone on your street?

The idea of an intentional living community has made its way to Quesnel.

The goal is to create a neighbourhood where residents share values, talents and responsibilities. The co-housing idea emerged in the early 1960s from Denmark. Their core idea is to build neighbourhoods that combine “the autonomy of private dwellings with the advantages of shared resources and community living.” And now there are hundreds of intentional communities in Denmark and beyond.

For the eight families already involved, key elements include downsizing the residence, making environmentally friendly decisions, providing support for each other as needed and sharing experience and interests. Aging in place is a main focus. This is where a person lives and ages in their residence of choice, for as long as they are able to. Aging in place includes having services, care and needed support in the community.

The few seniors’ facilities we have — Aveline, Maeford Place and Dunrovin — have long waiting lists because our population is aging. The addition of the two apartment complexes — Silver Manor and Kikihnaw — is an excellent move for Quesnel, and, again, these complexes had more applications than they can house.

Realizing the need to provide alternatives, a co-housing complex is an enticing option. The Quesnel group seeks to own small homes, with 15 to 20 clustered around a common house. Designs of already-constructed co-housing communities include apartments, townhouses, duplexes and houses. The benefit is that the group chooses the design based on shared values.

A common house will be a gathering place that will have shared amenities, such as a kitchen and dining room, workshops, fitness area, guest rooms, arts and crafts space, laundry and more. Each home will be self-sufficient with a complete kitchen, but regularly-planned resident-cooked dinners will be held in the common house for those who wish to participate.

We, the Cariboo Cohousing Group, are at the inception stage of planning. Marguerite Hall, the driving force for this idea, is guiding us through the planning process, while other members have taken on tasks of looking for land, deciding on how to incorporate, grant seeking and communication.

Communities could be a multi-generational mix of singles, couples, families with children and elders. Or they may be more age-specific, with residents over 50 only. That is for each group to decide.

In North America, approximately 160 co-housing communities have been completed since 1991, and there are currently more than 100 new communities in various stages of development. In Canada, most of the 30-plus projects are here in B.C. Our province has nine completed projects, two under construction and a further six in the development process. Quesnel is one of those six.

How a co-housing complex develops is only limited by the imagination, desire and resources of the people who are actively creating their own neighbourhood. Co-housing groups are based in democratic principles that promote the desire for a more practical and social home environment.

We are seeking people who like the idea of an intentional community. We have a core group and now need up to 10 more families to join us. The next informational session will be held at the Quesnel Library on Wednesday, Oct. 2 from 6-7:30 p.m. All are welcome.

If you are interested in learning more, please visit cohousing.ca, where you will find specific examples of Canadian co-housing communities. To follow the progress of the local group, search for the Quesnel Cohousing Facebook page. And, if you would like direct contact to learn more, please send a note to cariboocohousing@gmail.com.

We hope to see a few of you at the October session. Mark it on your calendar and consider the seed that this article may have planted.

— Submitted by the Cariboo Cohousing Group

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