Unique Victoria housing project emphasizes teamwork, community

Fernwood group has many hoops to jump through yet to obtain approval

Bill McKechnie

Bill McKechnie

A micro-neighbourhood within a neighbourhood – the first housing project of its kind in Victoria – is inching closer to receiving city approval.

The Fernwood Urban Village, identified as a ‘cohousing’ project, is the concept of four property owners on Grant Street who want to develop shared spaces with a focus on community engagement. They have been working with the city for nearly three years to create their vision.

“Our project will be like a little pocket neighbourhood,” said Bill McKechnie, one of the four and a Fernwood Community Association director. “I describe it as a group of like-minded owners who are pooling our money and building our houses in a way that surrounds the central courtyard.”

City staff recommended rejection of the project at Monday’s planning and land use committee meeting, saying it doesn’t conform to current municipal guidelines.

“One of the key reasons staff recommended against it … is they said it doesn’t have a very good relationship with the street,” said Coun. Lisa Helps.

But the city, she added, should be doing more to encourage alternative housing ideas.

“It’s the people’s relationship on that street that are making this happen in the first place. I think it’s unprecedented in the City of Victoria where four property owners have pooled their property to come up with something and build it together.”

To move forward, the project must pass through several stages of approval, including the creation of a master development agreement for the site, consultation with neighbours on Grant Street and further clarification on a proposed car-share program. Council would have the final say.

Cohousing differs from co-op housing in that property owners are still able to buy and sell individual units, rather than leasing them from a provincially legislated co-op organization.

The cohousing model emphasizes shared meals and fosters community activities, McKechnie said.

“The uniqueness of it is that we are trying to create a sustainable community by growing a lot of our own food.”

He said the plan also calls for a common dining room and kitchen – the suites would be self-contained, however, with a small kitchen in each. “In cohousing communities, you tend to eat together fairly often, and it’s part of bringing the community together.”

If approved, the site would also include green roofs, several food gardens and a bike/kayak storage area.

dpalmer@vicnews.com

Just Posted

Greater father involvement in the home leads to improved childhood development and increased marital satisfaction, says expert. (Black Press Media file photo)
University of Victoria researcher finds lack of father involvement a drag on gender equality

Working women still taking on most child and household duties in Canada

New COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island by local health area for the week of June 6-12. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control image)
New COVID-19 cases up on Island, but health officials say trends going right way

There were 22 new COVID-19 cases in Greater Victoria last week after just four the week before

Emergency health services treated a person after they were blocking traffic at the intersection of Fort and Douglas Streets on June 17. (Evert Lindquist/ News Staff)
Victoria intersection traffic returns to normal after protester blocked roadway

A person in a motorized wheelchair was blocking the intersection at Fort and Douglas Streets

Eric White’s roadside farm stand in Metchosin sits stocked with produce. (Photo courtesy of Eric White)
Fledgling Metchosin farmer frustrated by thefts from stand

Eric White said every dollar made at the roadside helps sustain his farm

Saanich police took a suspect into custody after a store employee on Cedar Hill Cross Road was assaulted Wednesday afternoon. (Black Press Media file photo)
Employee assaulted at Saanich store after asking suspected shoplifters to leave

June 16 incident saw worker taken to hospital with non-life-threatening injuries

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: When was the last time you visited the mainland?

The films are again lighting the screens at local theatres, the wine… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of June 15

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

The Co-op gas station at Whiskey Creek is burning after a camper van exploded while refueling just before 4 p.m. on Thursday, June 17, 2021. (FACEBOOK PHOTO)
Exploding camper van torches Highway 4 gas station between Qualicum Beach and Port Alberni

Highway traffic blocked after Whiskey Creek gas station erupts into flames

Helen Austin performing with Trent Freeman at the 2018 Vancouver Island MusicFest. Austin is one of the many performers listed for the 2021 event.
Vancouver Island MusicFest goes virtual for 2021

Black Press to stream 25 hours of programming July 9-11

FILE – A science class at L.A. Matheson Secondary in Surrey, B.C. on March 12, 2021. (Lauren Collins/Surrey Now Leader)
Teachers’ union wants more COVID transmission data as B.C. prepares for back-to-school

BCTF says that details will be important as province works on plan for September

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry outlines B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan, May 25, 2021, including larger gatherings and a possible easing of mandatory masks on July 1. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. records 120 new COVID-19 cases, second vaccines accelerating

Lower Pfizer deliveries for early July, Moderna shipments up

A Heffley Creek peacock caught not one - but two - lifts on a logging truck this month. (Photo submitted)
Heffley Creek-area peacock hops logging trucks in search of love

Peacock hitched two lifts in the past month

The Calgary skyline is seen on Friday, Sept. 15, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
2 deaths from COVID-19 Delta variant in Alberta, 1 patient was fully immunized

Kerry Williamson with Alberta Health Services says the patients likely acquired the virus in the hospital

Most Read