Nanaimo's Pacific Gardens Cohousing Community celebrates its fourth anniversary Saturday - and a company planning to spread cohousing across North America is paying attention.
LiveWell Cohousing is in the process of securing four cohousing buildings in B.C., including one in Parksville, and company founder Gary Morrison will join the celebration to get development advice from the founders of Pacific Gardens.
He will be joined by his coworker Charles Durrett, the architect who coined the term "cohousing" and brought the concept to North America.
Cohousing is popular in Europe but still relatively new to Canada, with less than 20 completed buildings in the entire country.
Residents in cohousing communities live separately, but regularly get together and share certain amenities such as kitchens and gardens.
Kathryn-Jane Hazel, who has been a resident at Pacific Gardens since its inception in 2009, said the building is "like an old fashioned neighbourhood."
"It's really important for us to run things ourselves and get together for events," Hazel said.
"A lot of us are sort of refugees from regular condominiums where you go into your apartment and go into the elevator and you have no idea who your neighbours are."
Hazel said there is a focus on organics, composting, recycling and energy conservation.
"We recycle just about everything," she said.
"We're looking at a way to install solar panels, because that will decrease the cost of our hydro bill by at least 20 per cent."
The shared amenities at Pacific Gardens are vast, including a music room, a woodworking shop, organic gardens and a kids' room where drawing on the walls is encouraged.
Residents, who range from college students to senior citizens, run everything on their own through community meetings and internal committees.
They get together at least once a week for potluck dinners, game nights and barbeques.
While the building's actual anniversary was on Sept. 4, the celebration will happen on Sept. 21 to tie in with the equinox.
Hazel said she will be sitting down with Morrison, Durrett and other residents who helped develop the building that evening to talk business.
Morrison said the informal meeting is "a very cohousing way to work together."
Morrison's building in Parksville will cater to seniors and there is a public presentation planned for Sunday.
There are currently units for sale at Pacific Gardens that range in size and cost anywhere from approximately $325,000 to more than $400,000.
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