(In our early days, we used the name West Coast Senior Cohousing)
For more information please visit Harbourside’s website:
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Our mandate is to be an owner-developed strata that combines private dwellings with a community in which neighbours know and support each other, one that will ultimately enable the people who live here to flourish through mutual support as they age in place, and in community.
Our mission is to be a sustainable senior cohousing homeowner community that promotes healthy aging in place. The physical structures as well as the social fabric of our community will nurture an innovative elder culture with lively connections to the larger society. While respecting personal privacy, we will foster cooperation, social connection and affordability through design and through the sharing of elder care as well as physical and social resources.
Who we are. In January 2013, eight households became founding members of Harbourside, a senior cohousing community in Sooke, near Victoria, BC. But that was not the beginning of the story! Harbourside is the new name for West Coast Senior Cohousing, an informal group whose roots go back to 2010 (see below). We are active, energetic couples and singles enjoying the ‘second half of life.’. We are starting now before we’re ‘ready for the home’ to develop senior cohousing for ourselves and to welcome others who share our vision and values.
Our journey. Our first impromptu meeting in the Fall of 2010 attracted 30 people, and in May 2011, more than 50 people attended an information meeting at Sooke Harbour House. Our study groups, Active Aging in Community, in Summer and Fall 2011 proved popular. About 25 of us study group graduates moved forward with site selection, and expediting the rest of the process outlined in the Senior Cohousing Handbook. Twenty of us participated in a Getting-it-Built Workshop that Ronaye Matthew (Cohousing Development Consulting) facilitated Feb 24-26, 2012 at the Sooke Ocean Resort. Ten more joined us for a meeting March 20 to get up to speed with “Getting it Built,” with a view to becoming members as our site search continues. By that summer we were in negotiations with Ralph Hull, owner of Sooke Ocean Resort, to purchase his property. We formed a LLC and signed a contract with him in the Fall of 2012 subject to feasibility studies and rezoning. Ralph joined the group as one of the founding directors.
By January 2013, initial feasibility studies had proved positive. Ronaye Matthew provided the group with a comprehensive Feasibility Report and met with us Jan 9 and 24th. We chose the name ‘Harbourside’ to suit the superb waterfront location for our senior cohousing community. We signed a contract with Ronaye to be our project manager. A membership structure was agreed to, with the 8 founding equity member households pledging $20,000 each as required shareholder loans.
In February, 2013, Harbourside opened to new members with the first of a series of information sessions. The group removed the “subject to” conditions on our offer to purchase 6669 Horne that related to feasibility, leaving the offer to purchase subject only to rezoning. The decision was made to contract with Mobius Architecture to design Harbourside. The group agreed to a definition of “co-care.”
In March, Royal Roads University hosted the first offering of our study group as a two-Saturday course, ‘Aging Well in Community.’ Held at 6669 Horne Rd, the course attracted 20+ participants. The course is a requirement for membership in Harbourside and is offered regularly through the RRU catalog under Continuing Studies/personal enrichment/healthy living. http://cstudies.royalroads.ca/courses/course-listings.htm?courseID=54. The course was offered four more times in 2013 – in May on RRU campus, in Sept in Sooke (combined with training Source Facilitation to offer the course, in October in Fort Langley, and in November in Sooke.
Also in March, we had our second design workshop with Mobius Architecture, and clarified site design and building form. By late March, 19 new associate members had joined, and Harbourside’s 8 founding members closed the doors until May to process this rapid growth. 5 of the new associate member households became equity members by the end of April and 2 more joined in May.
Our rezoning application was filed in April with the District of Sooke.
We had received a CMHC seed funding grant in the amount of $10,000. In 2013 we received a no-interest seed funding loan for $10,000, and a proposal development funding loan for $50,000 by the end of the year.
Over the summer, Harbourside hosted a communications skills workshop and, in partnership with Canadian Senior Cohousing Society, a talk and facilitation skills workshop with Diana Leafe Christian. We developed our affordable housing policy and agreed to offer two below-market units.
In mid-Oct, 2013 Harbourside’s rezoning to CD 13 was approved. Membership had grown to 17 equity members. One other equity member household had left.
Also in October, our third design workshop attracted much member interest. The focus was on unit designs. Last but not least, October 27th our pet policy was approved!
By the end of 2013, we had agreed to close on the purchase of the property in Jan, 2014. We had decided on a contractor, Campbell Construction, and proposals went out the the various engineers needed to finalize design. Our 18th equity member joined on Dec 31st!
2014. Three more design workshops took place as the architect, project manager and members worked together to plan our community. We also worked with the District of Sooke to obtain approval of of our development permit, and to dedicate parkland to the town for an eventual extension of the waterfront walkway that currently ends at Rotary Pier.
The Royal Roads University course, “Aging Well in Community,” was offered in January and September in Harbourside’s common house, and in April on the RRU campus. By May, we had 28 equity member households.
A Groundbreaking Ceremony in September heralded the start of construction the following month. Soon the trucks from Cat’s Eye, a local civil contractor, were a familiar site on Hwy 14 in Sooke. Campbell Construction oversaw everything.
By October, just as construction began, the last households joined. It felt great to rest from building membership complete and start building buildings.
As 2015 began, we embraced the task of building community, developing our consensus based decision making skills, our abilities to avoid unnecessary conflict and find the opportunities in the conflicts that do arise. We worked on our strata bylaws, moorage agreements, rental agreements, on our common house use plan, waste and recycling plan and much more. How fortunate we are to be able to focus on living well together, knowing that all the units are spoken for and under construction. Move in is anticipated when the year comes to an end.
We are delighted that Harbourside has been able to meet the ambitious timeline that Ronaye laid out for us our “Getting it Built” workshop in Feb 2012. Her skills let us all sleep at night!
The Cost. At this point cohousing is not subsidized in Canada. Participants are people who can afford to buy their own home. The cost is approximately 20% below market for one deed-restricted unit and approximately market rate for the other units. (Savings that arise from the members being their own, not-for-profit developer are offset by sharing the cost of a large common house.) With the help of their professional team, the members of the group establish size, quality and cost guidelines for the project.