Local woman launches cohousing discussion

Sandra Howard wants to see cooperative housing unit built in Invermere

Sandra Howard wants to create a buzz around cohousing in Invermere.

Cohousing is a group of like-minded people gathering together to create an intentional community, describes Ms. Howard.

“There is no usual (model),” explains Ms. Howard. “It depends on the people, on the age group, on the financials. It’s a small group that gets together to live lightly on the land.”

The Canadian Cohousing Network describes cohousing as neighbourhoods that combine the autonomy of private dwellings with the advantages of shared resources and community living.

“The heart of cohousing is the community areas,” Ms. Howard shared, elaborating that a communal house in the centre of a cluster of homes would be ideal, or a larger building with common areas inside the confines of the building such as a kitchen and lounge area.

Cohousing residents participate in planning, design, ongoing management and maintenance of their community, and typically range from 10-35 households emphasizing a multi-generational mix singles, couples, families with children, and elders, according to the Canadian Cohousing Network.

“A multigenerational one with young families up to grandmas is what I would like to see,” said Ms. Howard, but emphasizes it would depend on the group that expresses interest to decide collectively.

Ms. Howard wants to launch the cohousing model in Invermere because, as a single woman in her senior years, Ms. Howard, 70, started looking at the options available as she ages and found no choice that suits her.

“I see a bleak future if I dont’ take control of it,” commented Ms. Howard. “The idea is to go in, not as a last resort, but as a conscious decision to live in a community where we come together, to age in place together.”

In considering her future, Ms. Howard wanted an option that was a choice. In a document Ms. Howard put together to encourage the concept of cohousing, she writes, “I would like to grow older surrounded by people who know me and support me. I would never expect my neighbours to care for me physically. But emotionally, I envision a supportive group of people looking out for each other. Cheering up each other when they are blue. Sharing a bowl of popcorn for dinner once in awhile. Sharing in the decisions of the ‘community’.”

At the time of her interview with the Pioneer, Ms. Howard was looking to attend a cohousing workshop taking place in Sooke. She is also spreading the word to service clubs in town to connect with more like-minded individuals. When there are enough people interested in moving forward or to learn more about a possible cohousing project here, Ms. Howard will work to put on a public event some time in the spring.

For now, it is just an idea she has in her head, one Ms. Howard hopes is shared by a handful of others in the Columbia Valley. To learn more about cohousing, visit www.cohousing.ca. To connect with Ms. Howard, email showardbc@gmail.com.

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