Toronto Co-housing Communities

For all the buzz about co-housing, precious little of it seems to be going on, especially in Toronto. B.C. looks like the current capital of co-housing. According to a 2015 news article, “B.C. has 23 communities forming or already established co-housing neighbourhoods.

In fact Margaret Critchlow, frequently cited as a pioneer in these areas, forsook Toronto for Sooke, B.C. (see what I did there?).

Also on the West Coast, an American start-up called Open Door has a rather grandiose vision of how coliving can  reshape civilization and save the planet. Our goals are more modest.

In Ontario there are various developments in smaller centers, like Bracebridge, Minden or Barrie, outside the GTHA. But here in the city (excluding special-purpose developments like assisted living homes) we’ve so far discovered only three (or maybe four) — and only one of them actually exists.

  • Beverley House is closest to the model we’re proposing, in which a number of people share a single home. They describe themselves as “a group of people who view living in a community as something more than just being room-mates. We are looking for people – families or individuals who share our vision of co-creating a sustainable community home together.”
  • Canopy Cohousing bills itself as “Toronto’s first cohousing community,” but it isn’t — yet. The members are aiming to create a neighbourhood in the classic cohousing mode, with  separate residences sharing some common facilities. “We have been meeting as a whole group and in committees since April 2009.  …Our plan is to build or renovate about 2 dozen units, where each family will have its own home (including kitchen, and everything you would expect in a house).  We will also build a common house with a shared kitchen, dining room, and other facilities.  We plan to share meals on a regular basis.” Full marks for persistence, but it’s a little sobering to consider that seven years on, Canopy is still in the planning stages.
  • Similarly, the Toronto Baba Yaga Intentional Community announced its plans with much fanfare in 2013 but has not yet managed to establish a residence. So it’s a tough road.
  • People come and go at Delicious Earth, a vegan and spiritually-centred communal living house near Dufferin Grove.

Whole Village, in Caledon, north west of Toronto, offers a more rural version of the cohousing concept, along with a seasonal B&B.

There’s also an innovative cohousing community in Ottawa, Terra Firma, unusual for the way it re-purposed  existing structures.

Terra Firma cohousing, Ottawa
Streetview of the Terra Firma cohousing community near Ottawa’s Rideau Canal.

It began with  two, 1920s row houses of three units each. Later, the two original row houses were joined together by a new addition, providing a seventh unit plus common space. (Thanks to Robert Coelho’s master’s thesis for the photo and description.)

Are there others? If you know of another Toronto co-housing community, please add it in a comment.

 

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