West Wind Harbour, a new co-housing development, has broken ground in Sooke, continuing a trend that has spread across Vancouver Island and beyond.
It involves a return to a different neighbourhood model that builds on the advantages of shared resources and community living.
“There were neighbours of Harbourside (Harry and Sissel Hammer) who owned property on Sooke Road but were looking to downsize. They thought a cohousing development might be a better idea and the project was born,” said Georgina Petko, one of the organizers guiding the development.
“The original group was 10 families but now its grown to 23 households, all working together to design and create this new community.”
There are still an additional 11 units available within the West Wind Harbour cohousing community for units that range from 710 to 1050 square feet.
“This is going to be a remarkable neighbourhood. We’re going to have more than 5,000 square feet of communal space, including the original house on the property. We’ll have a space for art, a yoga studio, a workshop and we’re right on the water so everyone will have access to the dock,” said Petko.
The development is slated for completion by 2020.
It’s the second cohousing development in the community and follows on the heels of the official opening of Harbourside Senior Cohousing in 2016. That development opened in the community with 31 individual units offering housing opportunities that primarily targetted older adults.
Generally speaking, the purpose of co-housing is to create a neighbourhood environment reminiscent of a time when communities lived close to one another and people expected to help and interact with their neighbours.
“The whole thing started in Denmark where a bunch of younger families decided that there was a better way to live,” said Barb Whittington, one of the founding members of yet another cohousing project currently underway in Sidney.
“It’s what we call an intentional community where people buy into the community with the intention that people will be helpful to one another,” said Whittington.
She added that it’s about encouraging a sense of village life, where neighbours know and support each other while maintaining options for privacy.
Co-housing is based on the private ownership of self-contained homes centred around some shared facilities in a common house. That common house would typically include a kitchen, dining area, lounge, guest/caregiver suites, workshop, meeting spaces and other amenities for the use of the community in which shared dinners are typically available a few times every week.
Each home in the development still has its own complete kitchen and living space.
Petko acknowledged that, at present, West Wind Harbour is mostly comprised of older adults, but is quick to add that there is nothing to prevent younger families from joining in the community.
“Yes, it’s about ageing beautifully, but it can also be about young families and children. The plans and the way the community functions will always adapt to the people who become part of that community,” she said.
“If we get younger families, we’d just have to look at where we want the swing set and the playroom to be.”
Petko has invited anyone interested in learning more about the project to contact her at or to visit the group’s web site at .