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  Cranberry Commons memebers in the old cherry 		tree.

What is Cohousing?

A smaller carbon footprint – an enhanced quality of life.

Cohousing Neighbourhoods... some people call them a return to the best of small-town communities. Others say they are like a traditional village or the close-knit neighbourhood where they grew up, while futurists call them an altogether new response to social, economic and environmental challenges of the 21st century. Each holds a piece of the truth.

Cohousing is a concept that came to North America from Denmark where it emerged about 50 years ago. It describes neighbourhoods that combine the autonomy of private dwellings with the advantages of shared resources and community living. In North America approximately 160 cohousing communities have been completed since 1991 (ten in British Columbia). There are many more in various stages of development and the concept is spreading throughout the world.

Cohousing includes all of the following characteristics:

  • Participatory process — residents participate in the planning and development so that the design directly meets their needs.
     
  • The physical design encourages a sense of community, providing opportunities for spontaneous connection as well as maintaining the option for privacy.
     
  • Non-hierarchical structure and decision-making.
     
  • Cohousing is based on private ownership of complete, self-contained homes centered around and focused on shared facilities such as children’s play spaces, adult meeting spaces, library, office, workshop, guest room, common kitchen and dining room, gardens, greenhouse and other features the members may choose. Although every home has its own complete kitchen, shared dinners are typically available a few days each week at the common house for those who wish to participate.

In Canada, cohousing is most often legally structured as strata title or condominium, which allows for individual ownership of homes and common ownership of shared amenities. For information about the difference between cohousing, co-ops and conventional strata title/condominiums click HERE.

Cohousing neighbourhoods offer environmentally sensitive design with a pedestrian orientation and have documented lower vehicle use than conventional neighbourhoods. The characteristics of cohousing draw many different people, and the celebration of diversity is one of the ideals. For some, cohousing provides relief from the loneliness and isolation that is often inherent in conventional developments; for others the appeal lies in the sense of belonging to an active community, or the opportunity to create a model for a new way of living together more sustainably.

More Information:

For more information about cohousing in Canada visit www.cohousing.ca

For information about cohousing communities in the United States visit www.cohousing.org