Several years ago, a group of people from different walks of life with no building experience formed a development company to oversee the design, financing, and construction of a five million dollar cohousing project in Burnaby. The result was Cranberry Commons, an urban village built to meet its residents’ needs, respect the Earth’s limits, and create a friendly, caring, multi-generational neighbourhood. Solar panels, in-floor radiant heating, rainwater collection, composting, recycling, reduced automobile use, and shared resources all contribute to making this a more environmentally friendly way to live.

Cranberry Commons is one of five completed cohousing communities in BC, with more in development. Cohousing is not government subsidized, and tends to be slightly costlier than normal housing due to the added quality, environmental features and common amenities.

Cohousing enthusiasts start by defining their vision of a good home and a good lifestyle. This often involves a desire for honest relationships, mutual support, sharing, and a respect for privacy. They translate their dream into reality using consensus to reach creative decisions that respect everyone’s needs. Along the way, they develop effective communication and conflict resolution skills, self-responsibility, and a strong feeling of community.

Each community is unique, depending on its members, location and design. Urban communities tend toward apartment and townhouse designs, while rural communities may include clustered single family homes. They all tend to include jointly owned common amenities such as a dining room, kitchen, lounge, guestroom, playroom, workshop, laundry, office space and community gardens, within a pedestrian, car-free design.

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