Second cohousing venture in Vancouver gets support from city hall staff

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      City planners have endorsed the plan to build a second cohousing development in Vancouver.

      Cohousing is a model that started in Denmark, in which future neighbours plan and manage a multi-family development.

      In March 2016, residents of the first cohousing project in Vancouver moved into their new homes on the 1700 block of East 33rd Avenue.

      In the summer of that year, the city received an application to rezone three single-family residential lots at 4983-5007 Quebec Street for a second cohousing development.

      The change in zoning will allow the development of a six-storey building with 25 cohousing units.

      Twenty-two of the proposed housing units will have two and three bedrooms, which are suited for small families.

      Under the cohousing model, residents own their respective units, and share common facilities that usually include a communal dining area and play room for children.

      In September last year, the Georgia Straight interviewed one of the people involved in the planned cohousing venture on Quebec Street.

      Matthew Pedley, an electrical engineer, said that cohousing fosters community that is typically absent in condominium settings.

      “Cohousing really takes it to the next level,” Pedley said in the 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.”

      In a report to city council, Susan Haid, assistant director for Vancouver-South of the city’s department of planning, urban design and sustainability, noted that there are nine cohousing communities in B.C., of which five are in Metro Vancouver.

      Haid’s report also touched on the aspect of affordability of these homes.

      “Units are individually owned but developed collectively at cost,” Haid wrote. “Though the final unit cost is not typically below market, some affordability is gained through reduced operational costs through shared resources and amenities.”

      According to Haid, the Little Mountain Adjacent Area Rezoning Policy (LMAARP) applies to the Quebec Street property.

      Approved in January 2013 by council, the LMAARP allows heights of up to six storeys on properties surrounding the six-hectare Little Mountain complex.

      Little Mountain used to be the oldest public housing site in Vancouver. It was sold by the province to a developer.

      In July 2016, Vancouver council an application filed by Holborn Properties Ltd. to rezone Little Mountain for its plan to build 1,573 new homes, of which 1,291 will be private apartments and townhouses. The development will include buildings of up to 12 storeys.

      The Little Mountain site is west of the proposed cohousing development on Quebec Street.

      Council will vote on the project after a public hearing.