Frequently Asked Questions
The ‘co’ in cohousing refers to ‘collaborative’. The basic concept is one of reducing one’s privately owned space and amenities in favor of increased access to shared ones. A full 28% of our building square footage is common space, while the average condo development allots only six per cent.
A cohousing development is designed to foster relationships amongst its residents, whereas co-op housing is a type of ownership and tenancy, often linked to government sponsored affordability programs. Pacific Gardens is a cluster of strata properties built in an apartment style with extensive common amenities. It has a glass-roofed indoor atrium accessible from all units. There is an extensive Common House, which has a large kitchen adjacent to a dining/activity hall where residents participate in community meals, often once a week or more.
We have several more common activity rooms, such as an exercise room, crafts room, soundproof music room, children’s playroom, shared office, guest rooms, conversation lounge, woodworking shop, and bicycle storage room.
When it comes to laundry facilities, residents have a choice. Each apartment has a utility room with hook ups for a washer and dryer, but some residents prefer to use the communal laundry room instead.
As we settle into our community, experience what it’s like to live here, and have a chance to figure out the logistics, we are building additional communal facilities. For example, our families are planning new playground equipment, and a greenhouse is in the works.
In British Columbia, Affordable Housing (Capital A, capital H) is a form of subsidized housing intended to provide certain qualified individuals or families with housing opportunities, normally beyond their financial reach. Residents in cohousing are vetted on their philosophical compatibility rather than their income bracket.
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 for home-based businesses. Our kitchen is a certified commercial kitchen, and we have approved the use of it for one resident’s home-based business.
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.
In fact pets already are amongst the occupants of Pacific Gardens. However, our bylaws do include some stipulations about spaying, neutering, vaccinations, etc.
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. In time, we would like to build a greenhouse. Our compost bins already are accumulating naturally nutrient-rich soil for our green-thumbers. We follow permaculture principles in our gardens and plan to grow our own food.
Homes are purchased and sold by owners in same way as in any other condominium building.