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Co-housing project proposed for Bridgewater

From left: Cate, Leon and son Dylan de Vreede. Cate and Leon hope to develop a co-housing project for Bridgewater.
From left: Cate, Leon and son Dylan de Vreede. Cate and Leon hope to develop a co-housing project for Bridgewater. - Contributed

A co-housing project that would create a unique neighbourhood with added amenities, and would be the first of its kind in Atlantic Canada, is being proposed for Bridgewater.

Co-housing generally speaking is: “A group of people working together to create and maintain their own neighbourhood,” said Cate de Vreede, who, along with her husband Leon, pitched the idea at an information session on Sept. 29 at the Lunenburg County Lifestyle Centre.

“It’s a type of intentional community and it’s built so the physical buildings really support the social community,” said Cate. “It’s kind of like an old-fashioned neighbourhood in some ways, but it’s done in a different way.”

Cate says the common house is the heart of the co-housing community and has amenities that are owned by everyone in the community. “So, when you buy a home there, you’re entitled to shared amenities as well.” The common house would have things like a kitchen and dining area where the community can share meals, a kid’s playroom, perhaps a woodworking shop, guest rooms ...” says Cate. “Places where the community can gather or have access to things that they don’t need to have in their own home, but can share with others in the community. The idea is not everyone needs their own woodworking shop or their own lawnmower or their own shed of garden tools. Those things people may want to share with others. With co-housing, you’re getting a lot for your money, your own home and access to much, much more.”

Cate de Vreede (left) and Teresa Quilty pose by the Pacific Gardens Cohousing sign in Nanaimo, B.C., during a recent co-housing study tour on Vancouver Island. -Contributed
Cate de Vreede (left) and Teresa Quilty pose by the Pacific Gardens Cohousing sign in Nanaimo, B.C., during a recent co-housing study tour on Vancouver Island. -Contributed

Cate’s family was originally drawn to the ecological values of co-housing communities. “Typically, you could have a really, energy-efficient environmentally responsible home made possible and more affordable by doing it together with other folks. Since our son has been born, we’re even more drawn to the community aspect of it, so, that idea of ‘it takes a village to raise a child,’ that really resonates with us. That’s the kind of place we want to raise a family. We believe our quality of life will be enhanced with co-housing.”

Typically, there’s between 20 to 35 units in a co-housing project, which can be multiple-story buildings in big cities, or spread out in rural areas. For Bridgewater, the de Vreedes are looking at 25 to 30 units. “There might be some townhouses, some duplexes, some quadplexes, building clusters … co-housing projects are financed by the future homeowners so the group that comes together designs it, plans it and finances it,” said Cate. Adding while they don’t need to have all the units pre-sold to start, they need a good strong core to move forward.

So far, 13 co-housing projects have been completed in Canada, said Cate, with others in formation or development. Although there aren’t any co-housing projects in Atlantic Canada yet, Cate adds that there is interest in the region.

“People are eager to have it here. We’re feeling a lot of energy for our project. We’ve gotten a lot of interest in the last couple of weeks, so I think it’s time.”

The de Vreedes will be holding other information sessions in the fall where people can find out about the project and co-housing, with the hope that by the New Year, they will have a group of potential residents.

More information on co-housing can be found at www.bridgewatercohousing.ca.

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