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Cohousing builds community

Some people call them a return to the best of small-town communities. Others say they are like a traditional village or the close-knit neighbourhood where they grew up, while futurists call them an altogether new response to social, economic and environmental challenges of the 21st century.

Cohousing is a concept that came to North America in 1988 from Denmark where it emerged over 25 years ago. It could come to Prince Edward County. An information meeting was held Sunday, March 18 with about 75 people at the Picton Town Hall.

The County’s Brian Beiles says the meeting was of interest to anybody who would like to have a small footprint home in a resident-designed and managed neighbourhood, built around community shared amenities. A cohousing neighbourhood, he says, combines personal space with the benefits of living in community.

“There are a couple of groups in the County who have been exploring this concept,” Beiles says. “This meeting was about information sharing and exploring the potential to get started with a development here.”

Like a commune? No. On a scale of community “togetherness,” from least to most “together” if could be listed as: neighborhood, subdivision, condominium, cohousing, eco-village, then commune.

Cohousing residents participate in the planning, design, ongoing management and maintenance of their community, meeting frequently to address the processes. Cohousing neighbourhoods tend to offer environmentally-sensitive design and typically range from 10-35 households emphasizing a multi-generational mix of singles, couples, families with children, and elders.

In North America 127 cohousing communities have been completed since 1991 and another 118 plus in various stages of development. The level of social interaction and shared resources varies among communities.

Beiles says a cohousing development seems limited only by the imagination, desire and resources of the group of people who are actively creating their own neighbourhood.
“They are usually resident owned, fully self-contained cluster housing; typically registered as a condominium to facilitate financing; more about an intended way of living (in community) than a style of residence and type of ownership.
“With co-housing you can expect an efficient use of land; energy saving design elements; alternative energy sources; environmentally friendly building materials; effective waste and water management and transportation alternatives.”
To learn more, call Brian at 613 476 9001; visit the Canadian cohousing network at  or email

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