Just over a month after relocating its co-housing project from Smithers to Telkwa, the BV Co-Housing Society held an open house at the Village of Telkwa offices, and took interested parties on a tour of the prospective site.
About 40 people came out to the open house on Saturday afternoon and another 20 took the tour of the land.
Because of the relocation to Telkwa, organizers have had to a rejig the original plan.
They’ve altered the focus of the project from a seniors-only complex to a multi-generational one with an emphasis on community living.
“The multi-generational aspect of it has been underplayed,” prospective investor Daryl Hanson said during the tour of the site.
“It’s kind of replacing what we used to have as the extended family. We used to have grandparents and parents and kids all living nearby. When the older generation needed help shovelling their driveway, the younger generation helped with that, when the younger generation needed help with their babysitting, the older generation helped with that.”
The event attracted quite a few interested parties in the younger demographic.
“I think it’s a good model that has existed before but we lost it some point,” Marie-Lou Le Francois said, during the tour of the site. “There are a lot of efficiencies that we can have for example we like having a garden but we are really bad at it.
“Also, having access to a big part of land is very attractive. We have children and our parents are aging and we would like to have them close, but they don’t necessarily want to live with us. Buying an entire house in our neighborhood might not work.”
There is interest in the project, but getting firm commitments from investors is more tricky.
“We have people interested, but they aren’t prepared to put in money at the beginning,” BV Co-housing Society’s Mel Coulson said.
“This is how many of these co-housing projects start.”
Coulson cited a project in Courtenay, on Vancouver Island, that began with a small group but has now expanded to 32 families.
However, it is easier to keep costs down if more people commit.
“The more the better,” Coulson said. “One issue is the common house. Everyone contributes to the common area. If you have a smaller group, it’s more expensive to start out with.”
The size of the project will depend on how many people commit, but it will be designed to allow further expansion at a later date if more people are interested.
If only a small number begin the project, then bigger additions like the common house could be put off until further expansion.
The organizing committee has invited a co-housing expert to come up from Vancouver to deliver a two day seminar March 1 and 2, to walk them through some of the issues they may encounter as the project moves ahead.
“She will go through all the aspects of how to invest and deal with consultants, during all the various developmental phases that go into a successful project,” Coulson said. “She has done it before, so we can learn from her mistakes.”
The workshop is open to the public at a cost of $200 per person or $300 per family.
If the organizers can get enough people interested, the ground-breaking would likely take place in the spring of 2