(In our early days, we used the name West Coast Senior Cohousing)

For more information please visit Harbourside’s website:


Or visit us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HarboursideSeniorCohousing

Members please use this link, then click on the key at the bottom of the page and log in.

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.

2016. The project was completed. Stratification took place and we began moving in in mid January 2016. The last unit was occupied in Feb of that year.

We are delighted that Harbourside was able to meet the ambitious timeline that Ronaye proposed at 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 and building to a higher/greener standard than conventional developments.) With the help of their professional team, the members of the group establish size, quality and cost guidelines for the project.




32 Responses to Harbourside

  1. Edna Tyler says:

    We are 76 and 81 and very interested in your concept will look forwrd to hearing more

  2. Edna Tyler says:

    We are 76 and 81 and very interested in your concept will look forwrd to hearing more

  3. Emily Nelson says:

    I would be very interested in attending informational meetings. I am also interested in what the cost would be for this style of accommodation. Please let me know when & where the next meeting will be. Thank you.

  4. bill morrison says:

    Please notify me of your next meeting. I recently read an article in theTC and would like more info



  5. Davida Marantz says:

    Any room in your group for me? I am 64, in excellent health, and looking for a community of like minded “prime of life” individuals like myself. thanks for your consideration.


    • Margaret Critchlow says:

      Plenty of room, Davida, but taking our ten-week study group is the best way to determine if the community we are starting in the western communities near Victoria includes the “like minded, prime of life individuals” you are looking for. We’ve just begun the Fall session, meeting Thursday nights in Sooke (click on the Study Groups tab on this web page). In the winter we hope to offer a study group in Langford.

      • Laurilyn Greig-Haines says:

        I am originally from Colwood, currently living in Winnipeg, MB. How can those looking to relocate to the west coast engage in this interesting initiative? We are active, healthy & approaching 60.


  6. Brigit O'Leary says:

    Hello, I am in Mill Bay and very interested in your program and the concept of working towards developing such a community. As it is almost Feb, is there a possiblity of me taking the course this spring? I am interested in being part of a community and contributing to a lifestyle with like minded people. Currently I have a home with a garden which I am working up to organic production, but it is too much for me alone…am only 60 but have some physical limitations (ie arthritis). However I have a lot of experience working in community. I so believe in the values of strong or, rather… caring and respectful community living, mindfulness, organic living and sustainablity. Please let me know when you may be sharing more information or events, thank you.
    Cheers, Brigit

  7. Maureen McGuire says:

    I am interested in your project. Are you still running the meetings?


  8. linda says:

    this sounds like me.
    i have been living in courtenay/comox area – however miss the hugs of my friends in victoria. sooke to me is wonderful and a great opportunity to meet more friends that are 60ish and soooo able to take care of themselves.
    please add me to your list of very interested folks and i will be happy to join and assist in any way possible. keep in touch with me and i am ready to move – asap.
    thank you for your great view of life and living.

  9. Nancy Schoenfeld says:

    Somewhat late, I have discovered you. I am very interested in your projects. Are there any current meetings?
    I am 74 and I live in East Sooke.

  10. Julie says:

    I would be very interested in finding out more about the planning of this community. We are starting to think of where we will be a couple of years down the road and this sounds very attractive…. please let me now when you are having another meeting.

  11. Doreen Trethewey says:

    I just love the concept of mutual minded people who care about growing older together. I often thought of purchasing a large house and taking in like minded individuals for a common goal and friendship. Unfortunately, our young people are leading very busy different lives than we had and unless we like the idea of a nursing home there are not many other options at present. I am 66, very active and healthy and have been alone now for 25 years. I always had borders at my home and thoroughly enjoyed them so that is not a problem. I enjoy traveling to remote countries to help others but, as I get older I think that I should think about slowing down just a little. I would love to find out more about your community ideas. I am presently living in Ontario but am free to move where ever I want! Please contact me if you know of any such organization in Ontario. Maybe I should start such a group here??
    Regards, Doreen

  12. Don Phillips says:

    We at Sunrise Ridge Senior Housing Society in Prince George, B.C. are very interested in putting together information, ideas and eventually housing complexes to accommodate seniors in our area. I got some ideas and information from the January issue of Good Times, Canada. Any more shared ideas would be beneficial to share at our next meeting in February.

  13. Marni Hastings says:

    I am interested in your housing and would like to be informed of meetings and updates. Thank you. (I am 63)

  14. Doug Mannell says:

    My wife and I are currently involved in putting together a cohousing group in Panama, Central America. We are in early stages and progress is slow, in part because of the special challenges we find here. We are Canadians from Ontario but have both spent time in BC. We are intrigued by your project as an alternative location for us and would like more information. Is there a person or email address we could contact to start a dialogue?

  15. Cheryl Taylor says:

    I am only 50 but know at some point in the future I want to live in co-housing and want to live in an intentional community. I read about your development in Senior living and will look forward to more information, particularly cost and design.

    Way to go!

    Cheryl Taylor

  16. Elaine & David Black says:

    We live in Kelowna, we are visiting Sidney from June 4-12 can we visit the site of Habourside and get more information.
    Thank you.
    Elaine & David Black

    • Margaret Critchlow says:

      The evening of June 9 is a great time to visit Harbourside and hear the BC Seniors Advocate, Isobel Mackenzie. See the post on our home page.

    • Doreen says:


      I am in the process of moving to the Kelowna area from Nanaimo. I am curious if you have moved forward with a co-housing project or investigation. Being a single woman I have long thought this is a viable option for active seniors who need to live in a safe and secure environment.

  17. Elizabeth ORMISTON says:

    Hello Margaret Chritchlow

    I am greatly interested in co housing in Victoria BC. where I recently relocated.

    Your website is very interesting. Can you add to the dated info here –

    Could I be privy to current info, a map, address, floor plans and availability plus current cost configurations?
    What happens if the house? is sold as far as related commitments?

    When where is the next co-housing course offered?

    Looking forward to hearing more and Thank You

  18. Jacquie Grosser says:

    I am interested in learning more about this, I live in Kelowna and cannot attend a 10 week course. Is there an online or Skype option to be included? This is an idea I have been thinking about for a long time and love the concept!
    Anything still available in Sooke.?


    • Margaret Critchlow says:

      Please see my response to Catherine just now. Thanks!

    • Doreen says:

      I am curious if you have pursued this senior living option in the Kelowna area further?
      I am an active senior currently in the process of moving from Vancouver Island to Kelowna.
      This concept seems to offer so many benefits related to health (we eat better with friends) security (as a single senior woman I am beginning to feel vulnerable) economics (shared costs)

  19. Catherine Whitten says:

    Cheers from the Comox Valley,
    Was glued to CBC this am as Harbourside was talked about. I had heard about this co housing community a couple of years ago, unfortunately had to head east to take care of an aging aunt and uncle with no children. I too have no children with family and friends on the mainland and further east.
    I am 58, active and planning on remain so. I am a self employed residential painter and residential and commercial cleaner.
    This sound like a perfect fit for me, the sense of community is so important as you journey through life. I am also interested in upcoming information sessions etc involving this community.
    Looking forward to hearing from you.
    Regards, Cathy

    • Margaret Critchlow says:

      Thank you for your comment asking for more information about Harbourside Cohousing and about opportunities to start, or participate in, more projects like ours on Vancouver Island. We are attempting to ride the wave of emails in response to the Sunday Edition documentary, but can only surf the wave right now by sending a fairly generic reply. If you have further questions, you are welcome to follow up.

      If you asked us to add you to a list of any kind, please read on and follow the instructions. Thank you!


      Harbourside Cohousing’s main website is http://www.harbourside.ca. An overview of our history is available on the Canadian Senior Cohousing website at this link: https://canadianseniorcohousing.com/?page_id=20 Information about all the cohousing projects in Canada is available at the Canadian Cohousing Network website http://www.cohousing.ca

      OPPORTUNITIES FOR NEW SENIOR COHOUSING COMMUNITIES ON VANCOUVER ISLAND will be announced through our CanadianSeniorCohousing.com website and the Harbourside Bulletin. Several groups have contacted us about wanting to get started but are still in very early stages of coming together.


      To find out more about what steps to take to start your own cohousing community, please visit our project manager Ronaye Matthew’s CDC website http://www.cohousingconsulting.ca/getstart.html

      Start following those steps and, once you have built a group of around two dozen interested people, please contact me to explore the possibility of CDC holding a “Getting Your Community Built” workshop in your community.

      Also, I am available for presentations on “How to create cohousing,” and related topics. Please email me (Margaret Critchlow): raincoast.com@gmail.com


      Developed at cost by Sooke residents who plan to live there, Harbourside Cohousing, has attracted a lot of enthusiasm ever since our first meeting in late 2010. All of our 31 units were sold before construction began. The costs of the units at completion will range from about $313,000 to $466,000 including GST. The average cost is about $375,000 plus GST and average unit size is about 845 sq ft., plus everyone has access to ~4,000 sq ft of common space, gardens, and wharf. Construction is nearing completion, and we look forward to moving into our new homes in January 2016.

      If you are interested in renting or purchasing a unit, you can be notified when one becomes available by signing up here: http://harbourside.ca/available.php

      If you are interested in following our progress, you can sign up for our mailing list as a Friend of Harbourside, which means you will receive our monthly bulletin by email. A link to our most recent issue is on the upper left side of our home page http://www.harbourside.ca

      You are welcome to come visit by attending any of our monthly potlucks, meeting some members, and having a tour of Harbourside. The date of upcoming potlucks is in our Bulletin. Again, you can receive it by subscribing to our mailing list on the upper left of our home page.

      Site tours are sometimes possible by special arrangement. Please email info@harbourside.ca to arrange a tour. Because tours require members to make time in their schedules, show you around and answer your questions, we appreciate a suggested per person donation to our community fund of $10 cash or cheque payable to ‘senior cohousing.’ Please be courteous and give your volunteer guide as much advance notice as possible if there is a change to your plans, or if you need to cancel.

      Thanks again for your interest in our community.

      Kind regards,

      Margaret Critchlow

  20. Pingback: Sooke's Harbourside Cohousing is going full steam ahead |

  21. Hi:
    We, the Victoria Pet Food Bank and Feral Cat rehabilitation Society, aka Safars, are writing to inquire about pets. Do you allow residents to bring their pets with them? We really hope that your facility is pet friendly because the fact of a senior having to send their furry companion to a kill shelter can be emotionally devastating. Animals are the only family many people have and their therapeutic love helps us forget about the loneliness and fear of growing older.

  22. Barb Park says:

    I would like to come for a visit/tour, and put my name on a wait list for rental
    Thank you
    (I live in James Bay and I’m 61)

  23. Jane Petruniak says:

    How intriguing…love to hear more

  24. Ellie Routtenberg says:

    I would be interested in exploring your cohousing community. I am a very vibrant 77 year old, born and raised in Montreal, now living in Evanston , IL. Looking for cohousing options. Would like to visit and possibly rent. Do you allow small nonbarking adorable dogs?? Thank you.

    Ellie Routtenberg

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