Is Cohousing the same as Co-op housing?+
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.
Is this ‘Affordable Housing’?+
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.
Is this seniors housing/are children allowed?+
Pacific Gardens Cohousing Community is a diverse multi-generational community welcoming all age groups and family sizes. We feel that when three or more generations live together in the same complex, it provides an opportunity for the respect and inclusion of our elders, minimizes the alienation of any age group, and strengthens our community. For those of us who live here, the variety of family constellations is one of the delights of Pacific Gardens.
Is this suitable for families?+
PGCC was created to be multi-generational and family-friendly. We Pacific Gardeners can attest how enriching it is to have neighbours from babes in arms to folks in their 80s.
Are there opportunities for me to operate a home-based business?+
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 for home-based businesses.
I’d love to be a part of Pacific Gardens Cohousing but don’t know how I can afford it.+
If you’re concerned about costs, come in and talk to us. Many of our owners have solved their financing issues and may be able to offer ideas and suggestions that would work for you too. Co-ownership is one approach some owners have used. If you’d like to explore that option, please contact us. There also are rental opportunities at Pacific Gardens.
Will my unit have a kitchen?+
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.
Can I have pets?+
Yes.In fact pets already are amongst the occupants of Pacific Gardens. However, our bylaws do include some stipulations about spaying, neutering, vaccinations, etc.
Community sounds great, but at times I need my privacy. How does that work?+
Many of us who live at Pacific Gardens appreciate community but also value our privacy. After living here for a short time, we sense who is an extrovert and welcomes company at almost any time and who is an introvert and needs personal space. Several of us use our kitchen blinds as a signal. Closed kitchen blinds mean, “Privacy please,” while open blinds mean, “Drop by if you like.”
Will I be able to garden?+
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.
When was Pacific Gardens completed?+
September 4, 2009 was a red letter day for us. That was the date on which we received our occupancy permit.
What units are available?+
Is there a selection process?+
No.Homes are purchased and sold by owners in same way as in any other condominium building.
How can I learn more about cohousing?+
- The Cohousing Handbook by Chris & Kelly Scotthanson
- Creating a Life Together by Diana Leafe Christian
- Finding Community by Diana Leafe Christian
- On Conflict and Consensus by C.T. Butler
- Introduction to Consensus by Bea Briggs
- Browse articles on www.cohousing.ca and www.cohousing.org