Saanich Peninsula cohousing plans poised for progress

After 11 months, the Saanich Peninsula Cohousing group is poised to take the next step towards building new homes.

Margaret Critchlow (standing) a founder of Sooke’s Harourside Cohousing project returns to the Saanich Peninsula Jan. 29 to update the community on what cohousing is.

After 11 months, the Saanich Peninsula Cohousing group is poised to take the next step towards building new homes.

This Sunday, Jan. 29, the group is holding an information session, featuring speaker Margaret Critchlow. She was instrumental in creating what is considered the region’s first cohousing development, Harbourside, in Sooke.

Saanich Peninsula Cohousing founding member Tracy Mills says Critchlow will talk about what’s happening with cohousing in B.C. She will also discuss what cohousing is and how people can get involved with the Saanich Peninsula group.

In a nutshell, cohousing involves like-minded people to come together as a formal group and put up a lot of the resources to start building housing units in their community. Individuals can become as involved as they like and even buy into the complex once it’s built. All the work is, of course, done by professionals like in any housing development. The only difference is who they report to.

Mills said people started talking about cohousing on the Peninsula almost one year ago. Information sessions were held last April and May, followed by a workshop later in the spring. Mills said out of that, a core group of four people was formed in the summer, tasked with coming up with a vision for Saanich Peninsula Cohousing. In addition, she said there’s a ‘friends list’ of more than 225 people — some from as far away as Ontario.

Their goal is to build 25 to 30 units by 2020 — in either Brentwood Bay, Saanichton or Sidney, close to urban areas. They hope to tap into the expertise of Critchlow and others involved in Harbourside, to move the local project forward.

Mills said one the more difficult aspects of the plan is finding suitable land on which to build. They need room for a single building and realize this could be one of the hardest steps, as developable land is rare on the Peninsula.

Still, Mills said the group is looking to create a community that’s vibrant, with multiple age groups.

‘Why live in off-the-shelf housing, when you can create something remarkable?” she said.

Sunday’s information session is at the McTavish Academy of Art, 1720 McTavish Rd. in North Saanich. It runs from 2 to 4 p.m.

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