Frequently Asked Questions
Pacific Gardens is a strata (similar to a condominium). The apartments in our complex are privately owned. Since the owners have title to their strata lots, they are eligible for mortgages.
There are two features that define a cohousing community: (1) a common house, in which many community activities take place and (2) a decision making structure that is based on consensus.
The “co” in cohousing stands for “collaborative.” It describes an interdependent relationship in which each household is autonomous, but residents choose to participate in many joint activities.
In contrast, living in a housing cooperative is more like renting. The building is owned by the cooperative. Members own shares, which allow them to occupy their units. Banks typically do not give mortgages for cooperatives, since shareholders do not own their units, and there are many restrictions to selling units.
A few of our residents have lived in both co-op housing and cohousing. They report that, in practical terms, there are many similarities to daily life in the two models.
The difference lies in the inspiration for the creation of the community.
A cohousing development is designed to foster relationships amongst its residents. It is not intended to be affordable housing, though volunteer work and tool libraries do result in some cost savings.
Co-op housing, on the other hand, is a type of ownership and tenancy often linked to government sponsored affordability programs. Co-op housing frequently results in close connections among residents too. Those bonds, however, tend to be a byproduct of the model rather than the impetus for building the project in the first place.
This document provides more information on the differences among cohousing, cooperatives and conventional stratas/condominiums.
No. Pacific Gardens is a strata/condominium complex. Pacific Gardens homes are bought and sold at market value.
Yes. These days many people work from home, and that includes some of us Pacific Gardeners. Keep in mind, however, that the City of Nanaimo has a number of regulations that govern the type of business you may conduct from home. Our Strata Council has adopted consensual guidelines regarding home-based businesses.
Yes. All units are self-contained. All have fully functioning kitchens and laundry hookups. We regularly have common meals, and most residents participate. Indeed, for many of us, sharing meals in our dining hall is one of the most enjoyable aspects of the cohousing lifestyle. But participation in common meals is entirely optional.
Yes. We have pets amongst the occupants of Pacific Gardens. However, each unit is limited to one dog and one cat and our bylaws include some stipulations about spaying/neutering, vaccinations, etc. In addition, all pets must be leashed while they are on the common property.
The high regard that many of our residents have for gardening is reflected in our very name — Pacific Gardens. We have several plots available for individual residents, as well as a communal one. As our property previously was a heritage apple orchard, we are fortunate to have some established fruit trees. Our compost bins accumulate naturally nutrient-rich soil for our green-thumbers. We grow some of our own food and pick the abundant raspberries and blackberries on our property during the summer.
No. Homes are purchased and sold by owners in same way as in any other condominium building. However, we ask potential owners to take the time to meet some of our members, take a tour, attend events/meetings and see if cohousing is really what they’re looking for before deciding.