A collaborative housing model started in Denmark is taking hold in Vancouver.
Called cohousing, it puts future neighbours together in the planning, construction, and management of a multifamily development.
In March this year, residents of the first cohousing project in the city moved into their new homes on the 1700 block of East 33rd Avenue.
A second cohousing development is in the works. City hall has received an application to rezone three lots on Quebec Street in the Riley Park neighbourhood for a six-storey residential building.
The development will have 25 strata-titled homes to be owned by members of a group called Little Mountain Cohousing.
Matthew Pedley and his wife are involved in the project. With their two young kids, they have lived in typical condo settings where neighbours get to see each other only during annual general meetings.
As Pedley observed, there isn’t much of a sense of community in that kind of housing arrangement. Except for hallways and elevators, residents share nothing.
“Cohousing really takes it to the next level,” Pedley told the Straight in a phone interview. “It’s a completely different community. It’s one that you build, and you choose to be a part of it. And you do that with the knowledge of who the other members are.”
An integral feature of cohousing is a huge common amenity space. It serves as a gathering place for community dinners, and provides shared spaces for exercise, children’s play, office tasks, and a workshop.
With cohousing, future residents get to choose what they want done with their building.
“It’s not done by a developer anymore who’s trying to make profit at the end of the day. It’s done by the group itself,” noted Pedley, who is an electrical engineer.
The Quebec Street site is adjacent to the former Little Mountain social housing complex set to be redeveloped by Holborn Properties Ltd.
In 2013, Vancouver city council approved the rezoning application by the Cedar Cottage Cohousing Corporation for its groundbreaking project. A three-storey building with 31 homes was built on East 33rd Avenue. Two of the units are dedicated rentals.
City staff and members of Little Mountain Cohousing will hold an open house from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. next Wednesday (September 21) at 4588 Clancy Loranger Way.