What is Cohousing?
Cohousing Neighbourhoods... Some people call them a return to the best of small-town communities.
Others say they are like a traditional village or the close-knit neighbourhood where they grew up, while futurists
call them an altogether new response to social, economic and environmental challenges of the 21st century.
Each holds a piece of the truth.
In Building Community with Cohousing, film makers Dany Gagnon and Regan Payne
interview cohousing residents from WindSong Cohousing Community (completed 1996),
Cranberry Commons Cohousing (completed 2001) and Roberts Creek Cohousing (completed 2005).
This 6 minute video provides a general overview of the concept and can be viewed through
the link below.
Building Community with Cohousing
Cohousing is a concept that came to North America from Denmark where it emerged about 40 years ago.
It describes neighbourhoods that combine the autonomy of private dwellings with the advantages of shared resources
and community living.
In North America 119 cohousing communities have been completed since 1991 (7 of which are in BC). There are
currently more than 100 new communities in various stages of development and the concept is spreading throughout
Cohousing is based on private ownership of complete, self-contained homes centered around and focused on
shared facilities, such as a Common House with children's play spaces, adult meeting spaces, library, office,
workshop, guest room, common kitchen and dining room, gardens, greenhouse and other features the members
Although each home has its own complete kitchen, shared dinners are available a few days each week
at the common house for those who wish to participate.
Cohousing communities are most often legally structured as strata title or condominium,
which allows for individual ownership of homes and common ownership of shared amenities.
For information about the difference between cohousing, co-ops and conventional strata
title/condominiums click HERE.
Cohousing residents participate in the planning and design of the community and after completion are involved in
the ongoing management and maintenance.
The physical layout is designed to provide personal privacy as well as
create opportunities for interaction with neighbours. Cohousing neighbourhoods tend to offer environmentally sensitive
design with a pedestrian orientation and have documented lower vehicle use than conventional
It's about living in a way that's responsive to a world that has changed dramatically
in the last fifty years - a world in which the home life has changed, women are integral in the labour force, resource
limitations and environmental concerns are on the rise, and many people feel over extended. Cohousing is a place where
people know their neighbours, a place where they can enjoy a rich sense of community and contribute to a more
The characteristics of cohousing draw many different people, and the celebration of diversity is one of the ideals.
For some, cohousing provides relief from the loneliness and isolation that is often inherent in conventional developments;
for others the appeal lies in the sense of belonging to an active community, or the opportunity to create a model for a
new way of living together that is more socially and environmentally sustainable.
More information about cohousing in Canada is available on the
Canadian Cohousing Network website.