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It takes a community. How BC’s cohousing communities support each other.

By Kathy Sayers

OUV is in our final sprint, breaking ground in just a few months.  This article is a thank you note to the cohousing communities in British Columbia.  Without you, we would not be here today.

It’s likely that cohousers everywhere share their experiences with new communities.  I have a feeling, though, that BC’s communities have gone a step further.  Here are six ways communities helped us succeed.

You encouraged us from our earliest days.
Because Vancouver is so expensive, our founding members decided to partner with a developer.  They’d provide the land.  We’d provide the community.  Were we crazy to try this?  Frannie Cruise, from Vancouver Cohousing, offered advice (‘sounds doable”) and suggested who to talk to in City Planning to get a reaction to our idea.  She helped us with recruiting plans and gave us honest feedback for our ideas.

You commiserated.
Our community started in the same month as Driftwood Cohousing.  Because we were on the same trajectory, MacKenzie Stonehocker and I met for coffee or chatted by phone every few months to strategize and offer suggestions.

You shared your consultants with us.
Kathy MacGrenera is a cohousing consultant who was working with two other communities flat out when she agreed to facilitate for us too.  She did an amazing job over four years to help us build our community and adapt our cohousing model. Lysa Dixon, a mortgage broker from Little Mountain, helped our families evaluate affordability.

You let us visit and shared your best practices.
You opened your doors and shared meals at Quayside Village, Cranberry Commons and Windsong.  You told us how you got work done, made dinners work, handled conflict and much more. The Little Mountain folks offered guidance on car sharing.

You launched the first Canadian Cohousing Conference.
The 2017 conference began with a simple proposal from Paul Cottle from Little Mountain.  “Let’s do some fun activities with other communities.”  Out of the talent show, shared meals and wine and cheese affairs that followed, a desire grew to work together.  The cohousing conference was the result.

When things took a turn, you saved our bacon!
In June 2019 we lost all but two of our families when prices in Vancouver almost doubled.  Breaking ground was months away and we had no members!  That same month I gave a talk on urban cohousing at the US Cohousing Conference with two other communities.  After I told our story, someone asked: “Aren’t you scared your community will fail?’  Remarkably, I wasn’t.  I knew the  BC cohousing community had our back. I knew they would share their mailing lists.  I knew that Hive & House, a new consulting group, composed of three BC cohousers, could pull us through. And they did.

So I just want to say to all the local cohousing communities, thank you for your generous spirit. We couldn’t have made it without you.