Victoria, BC micro-cohousing

Here’s an innovative idea for a small-is-beautiful approach to senior cohousing. Check out Karen’s message below and visit her blog. Intrigued? Email her at <>

Exciting – and timely – your (ad)venture of instigating the first senior co-housing in Canada.
Having lived communally in the 60’s and carried the ‘essence’ of that experience across the intervening years of raising a family etc., now, as the first of the baby boomers to turn 65 and legally a senior (a rites of passage, that government cheque!), the idea of an intentional, autonomous community appeals, delights and motivates.
I lived in Fernwood for 18 of my 21 years in Victoria and it suited me well then – but – as a child I lived (two blocks from downtown) in St. Thomas, a small, southern Ontario town; raised our growing family in Georgetown, Ontario (two blocks from downtown) and then the Beaches area of Toronto (two blocks from downtown). I want that again.
Oak Bay Village is where I want to be, where it makes sense to be, as I am there every day of the week for its library, parks and trails, grocery stores, sushi (and other) restaurants, seniors’ centre,  post office, bank, church thrift shops, hardware stores, garden centre,  pharmacies etc.
So I have a vision (evolving) of something  “two blocks from the Village” – a house in which I can participate with like-minded individual(s)  in converting to three suites using my love of home, skills and creativity.
I’ve owned/renovated/restored seven houses , four in Ontario when married,  three in Victoria (one with sons, two on my own.)
My involvement with Urban Wilderness Gardeners in Toronto in the 80’s showed me how a manicured front lawn could be replaced by something pleasing and beneficial to nature, human and otherwise,  and how one expression of this could spread along a block, across a city,  across a country.
I can ‘see’ this  happening in Oak Bay with “intentional houses” dotting a neighbourhood, and the whole community being favourably affected.
Karen Skowron


20 Responses to Victoria, BC micro-cohousing

  1. says:

    Here in Ashland Oregon, we are considering trying to create a senior cohousing project. Rather than reinvent the wheel, or pour money into consultants who’ve done this 20 times before, we’re looking to other senior cohousing groups to help us. what we are asking you for is to share your sequence of events (possibly with dates) to let us see which step you didn’t first, second, third and so on. Any comments about screw ups or discoveries would be greatly appreciated. we will then publish this to our interested members to share with all. I hope that you are willing to contribute to the success of senior cohousing in Ashland, Oregon.
    Many thanks,
    Sugeet Posey

    • Margaret Critchlow says:

      Hi Sugeet — Exciting to hear of a possible senior coho starting in Ashland. We are still in the early days of development here in the western communities but our sense is that money is well spent on those “consultants who’ve done this 20 times before.” We began meeting in Fall 2010. Two of us trained with Chuck Durrett in April 2011 — you might want to take his next training, scheduled for April 2012. Then we offered a ten-week study group on active aging to 24 people in the summer and 20 in the fall. We have continued to meet as a group, to have potlucks, and go on field trips. 20 of us are taking a Getting It Built Workshop with Ronaye Matthew Feb 24-26, 2012.

  2. Sheila Miller says:

    heard some interesting discussion on CBC radio re Babayagas but lost contact information for anyone interested in Victoria BC area. I hope this is a good link to this ongoing conversation / endeavour. SM

  3. Alan Carpenter says:

    This concept of creating a few suites in a home is getting more common and seems to work well. If you want to check this out further and discover what makes them work well then visit these two sites that I have discovered in my work in Cohousing. One is called Co-housing (with a dash) and one is called collective housing for the same thing. and
    I have also thought it may be good to do this in one area where you can build these close to each other then share resources as a collection of “collective houses“.

  4. Theresa says:

    Interested in co-housing in Victoria, planning for early senior years and would enjoy multi generational housing as well

  5. I was Executive Producer for the film Within Reach which is about the search for sustainable community by two 30 year olds visiting one hundred communities in the US on their bicycles.
    My mom was born in Montreal (she has now passed) and I am in the process of reclaiming my Canadian citizenship. My dream is to live in cohousing or shared housing in the Victoria or Vancouver area or perhaps on one of the islands on the West coast. Any information anyone has about which communities are formed, forming or will be in the near future would be very much appreciated. Thanks so much, Joanna

    • Valerie says:

      Joanna – I am 72, recently widowed and have decided to undertake a Co housing situation by dividing my house into 2 or 3 Co owner accommodations. Also have a gatehouse which is currently rented. The property is waterfront, on Salt Spring Island, BC, located in a village (amenities). Not only is the Co housing model a perfect alternative for me, I like the potential for others. If personally interested love to hear from you. Valerie

  6. Sandy Dickson says:

    I am interested in co-housing, intentional communities on the coast and am excited to find this thread- even though it’s a bit old. Wondering if you were able to establish the house 2 blocks from The Village, and how it unfolded

    • Margaret Critchlow says:

      Hi Sandy,

      As far as I know the micro-cohousing project has not gone beyond the planning stage. Two cohousing communities ARE moving forward in the Victoria area – West Wind Harbour and Ravens Crossing. Both are accepting new members.

  7. Wayne says:

    I am a senior with some funds looking towards cohousing. Does anyone know of a reasonably priced project now or on the books in the near futures,

  8. Christine John says:

    Hi, I live in Nelson, but would like to move back to the coast, just turned 70, and am very interested in any active cohousing projects there, esp VancouverIsland

  9. Ellie Routtenberg says:

    I am interested in exploring cohousing on Vancouver Island. I am a former Canadian and now live in a retirement community in Evanston, IL. I grew up in Montreal. I have visited Vancouver Island and love it, I have a cousin who lives in Victoria

    • Margaret Critchlow says:

      Hi Ellie, Perhaps take the on-line version of “Is Cohousing for You?” It’s featured in the new post on our home page.

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