Finding a place to live in Vancouver is difficult. Finding community can be even harder.
The members of East Van Cohousing have made the decision to stay in the city while making a more intentional choice to be surrounded by a community that know and cares about them.
Putting together a development plan for a 35-unit multifamily apartment building this past year, East Van Cohousing members asked: How do you want your day-to-day experience to be? What are the values you want to see represented in your world? Do you want to get to know your neighbours, so you can feel more connected to your community?
Typically, cohousing development can take seven to 10 years, but thanks to a very committed team, the project off Kingsway and 33rd, with generous common spaces, is already in the design stage of working with architects.
Of course, no plan avoids Vancouver’s complicated zoning and building codes. B.C.’s recently passed Bill 47 will give substantially more density to the project, which is a short walk to the 29th and Nanaimo SkyTrain station.
The extra density raises another important question: How many people does it take to have a community feel where you know your neighbours? Typically, 60-80 people is around the average size of cohousing, but adding more floors means more units and lower costs for residents. East Van Cohousing is still trying to figure out what works best for the community.
The project is based on covering just the cost of the building, which will be similar to market prices. Of course, that’s a tough sell in a city where the average condo costs in the ballpark of $800,000. But East Van Cohousing members are committed to making it work.
Research shows that an active community increases life expectancy and enjoyment. According to the My Health My Community survey by the University of British Columbia and local health authorities, people with lower levels of social connectedness report higher levels of stress, and 43 per cent of lower mainland residents report low or very low sense of community belonging.
Cohousing is a fitting answer to the question of how to live one’s life. Everyone has their own full apartment but the community gets together a few times a week in a common space to share meals and discuss their lives and families.
It’s living in a safe community, where kids can run around without parents worrying and a multigenerational group of adults can share their lives together in a supportive and caring environment.
It’s living social, community-oriented values every day. In a world that is increasingly complex and confusing, coming home to neighbours that are truly friends is a beautiful way to live.
If you’d like more information on East Van Cohousing, visit their website. They’re currently accepting new members who can commit financially by May 2024.
Read more: Housing
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