What is cohousing?

Cohousing neighbourhoods are designed to combine the autonomy of private dwellings with the advantages of shared resources and community living. Members participated in the planning, design, and development of the community so that it directly met their needs. In the process of working together, residents have built strong relationships and bonds that support them in the ongoing community.

How did cohousing get started?

The concept emerged in Denmark about 50 years ago. It was introduced to North America by the architect team of Charles Durrett and Kathryn McCamant with the publication in 1988 of their book Cohousing: A Contemporary Approach to Housing Ourselves. Since then, well over 150 cohousing communities have been completed in North America. There are currently 13 in Canada, with many more in various stages of development. The concept is quickly spreading throughout the world.

What is the purpose of the West Wind Harbour Cohousing group?

We are a group of people who have made the decision to plan our future rather than have it planned for us.  We have built a 34 unit cohousing development with the idea of living in community.   It is community initiated, affordable, environmentally friendly, and socially/culturally supportive. Our goal is to flourish through mutual support in community.

What is the community like? 

Each home is autonomous and owners hold title to their real estate through strata title.  They are able to sell their units at any time.  There is also over 7000 sq.ft. of common space including gym, guest rooms, workshop, art rooms, library, boat dock, roof deck, not to mention incredible views of the Salish Sea and mountains.

Will I own my own home? 

The legal status of each unit is a ‘strata title’, and each household owns their own home together with a share of the common facilities.

What kinds of people live in cohousing? 

We come from very diverse backgrounds, from every income level, family type and belief.  We have a common desire to take an active part in our community and a belief that connecting with our neighbours will enhance our quality of life.  Check out our bios for more information.  westwindharbour.ca/members

Would I have privacy? 

Yes! Our members value privacy as much as social contact. It is essential to us that we have our own homes and private spaces.  A unique aspect of cohousing is that residents participate in a conscious process of creating a community that will reflect their values. Our members highly value privacy, so the design reflects our desire to provide a balance of privacy and community.

The following statement was taken from a CMHC study in 1997 called, Planning Cohousing:

“While the shared amenities are integral to cohousing, some believe privacy is more respected in cohousing communities than elsewhere. There can actually be increased privacy in cohousing because the common areas provide meeting places, guest spaces, rooms for socializing, etc., allowing individual dwellings to be places of privacy and retreat.”

Will children be welcome at West Wind Harbour? 

Yes! Children are very welcome and we have not set age restrictions.  Many of our residents have grandchildren or other young people in their lives.  Our neighbourhood is designed with the intention of ageing well in community and that includes everyone!

Will pets be welcome at West Wind Harbour? 

Yes! Our pet policy allows for two pets per household.

What is a common house? 

We are fortunate that our common house at West Wind Harbour is a beautiful, west-coast designed family home.  It includes kitchen and dining areas, lounge, guest rooms, workshop, and office space as well as art rooms, library, and den. We also have other common spaces including a dock, roof deck, gym, commercial kitchen and dining area with a patio overlooking the Sooke Basin.  These common spaces are the heart of the community; a place for residents to share food, have meetings, celebrations, musical events, movies, yoga practice, workshops, and other activities that support the interests of community members.

Do members share meals together? 

Common activities—and particularly shared meals—can be important aspects of community life both for social and for practical reasons. Such activities, however, are always optional. In cohousing communities, residents typically share meals anywhere from a few nights a month to as many as several nights per week. It depends entirely on the wishes of the residents, and participation is up to each individual. Each home has its own kitchen, so participating in common meals is optional.  During Covid, we are adhering to all health regulations, and are looking forward to getting back to gathering soon.

How are members selected? 

Members are not ‘selected’.  Anyone can buy into our beautiful development.  Meeting with other members of the community will be useful in making a decision on whether you feel like West Wind would be a good fit for you. 

Do I have to like everyone? 

In this world, it’s unlikely that we can all ‘like’ everything that other people do or say!  However, in a healthy and diverse community, people are expected to be tolerant and respectful toward others. Some people, of course, are very private individuals and may feel most comfortable with fewer close friendships; whereas, others form friendships with most everyone in the community. As in other areas of life, individuals create their own experiences.

Can I expect free elder care or help if I get sick? 

As among any group of friends and neighbours, people help each other in informal ways; cohousing is envisioned as a community in which people are friendly and supportive to each other—especially in times of need. However, this support is always voluntary. Ongoing group care arrangements will be decided by the membership, and any particular ongoing care for individuals would be arranged privately. 

What is meant by the term “co-care”? 

Co-care is a model of neighbourly mutual support that can help reduce social isolation and promote positive, active ageing. It encourages independence through awareness that we are all interdependent. In a cohousing community, giving and receiving co-care is entirely voluntary. We may choose to support each other through such activities as doing errands, driving, cooking, or going for a walk with a neighbour. We believe that being good neighbours helps us age well in community and have fun doing it.

How much meeting time is involved? 

Generally, community meetings take place one day a month. However, attendance at these meetings is not required.  Meetings are currently on Zoom during Covid, and include Zoom at other times, to enable people who are not in Sooke to participate. 

Is meeting attendance mandatory? 

No.  However, we’ve found relationships have been strengthened through discussion, by working together, and socializing.  We’ve found that working and making decisions together is a very effective way to build a cohesive community.  Although attendance at meetings is not mandatory; decisions made by the community, even in your absence, are binding.

What will be expected of me?

Members work together to organize various aspects of the community and to take care of maintenance and ongoing upkeep duties. There is no minimum amount of participation required and each person participates as much or as little as they feel they are able.  Monthly maintenance (strata) fees are required.

What reference materials are available to learn about cohousing?

Kathryn McCamant and Charles Durrett’s book Creating Cohousing: Building Sustainable Communities is an excellent resource and will give you an overall view of what cohousing is about. The Senior Cohousing Handbook: A Community Approach to Independent Living by Charles Durrett gives a more detailed description of how cohousing can support ageing in place. There are more and more online resources available, including the Canadian Cohousing Network, Canadian Senior Cohousing, Cohousing Development Consulting, and The Cohousing Company—to name just a few.

What is the village of Sooke like? 

Sooke village is the compact centre of a wider, coastal community that stretches north to Port Renfrew and beyond. The township itself borders Sooke Harbour and enjoys panoramic south- westerly views across the Strait of Juan de Fuca to the Olympic Mountains of Washington State. First Nations have lived off the natural abundance of the land and the sea in this area for millennia.

When migrant peoples arrived from Europe, other parts of North America, and elsewhere in the 19th century, they established important commercial logging, mining, and fishing industries. To these have been added communities of artisans, artists, and creative industry practitioners.

Sooke’s climate enjoys the temperate effects from prevailing southwesterly winds, the Japanese Current, and the rain shadow created by the Olympic Mountains. Because of these benevolent factors the southernmost part of Vancouver Island, where we live, is something of a geographical aberration, bringing us warm, dry summers and cool, damp winters. We rarely see snow.

The Sooke Basin, where West Wind Harbour will be situated, is a beautifully sheltered natural harbour. It is one of the most scenic, peaceful, and relatively untouched rural/urban places in North America. At our doorstep lies a region where wild creatures and the wilderness live in relative harmony with people— where we can watch hummingbirds, bald eagles, kingfishers, herons, and loons, and occasionally see bear, cougar, orca, and whales. Deer graze throughout the region—necessitating gardening as an act of cooperation with nature.

Sooke Basin is an area of enormous beauty—by any standards.

The website for Sooke’s municipal government can be found at: www.sooke.ca.  

You can find more information about Sooke, its amenities and its social, cultural, and recreational assets at visitor-oriented websites like:  www.hellobc.com or www.sooke.org

How do I get more questions answered?

Please do not hesitate to contact us, if you have any further questions. info@westwindharbour.ca