In early 2016, Harry and Sissel Hammer, the owners of 1.5 acres at 6603 Sooke Road, approached the Canadian Senior Cohousing Society to gauge interest in developing a second cohousing community on the Sooke waterfront. As with Harbourside Cohousing, the Hammers wanted to sell to a cohousing group that they could also join. The large turnout for a single information session in April confirmed that there was ample interest and generated the core of founding members for the new Sooke Cohousing initiative.
To learn more about what it is like to live in cohousing, the informal group of members took Margaret Critchlow’s course Is Cohousing for You? in June. They then contracted with Cohousing Development Consulting (CDC) to hold a Getting Your Community Built workshop in July. After preliminary feasibility studies comparing other properties, the group agreed that the Hammer property had the most potential.
Some of the site’s assets are walkability to downtown amenities; gently sloping terrain with easy waterfront access and a sturdy dock; and sweeping southeast to southwest views of Sooke Harbour and Basin, as well as the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Olympic Mountains of Washington State.
With minimal renovation, the owners’ gracious home lends itself to becoming cohousing common space, including: guest rooms, an office, a library, a place for family dinners, patio area for gatherings around the fire, and more. Additional common space will be included in new construction.
Ten founding members formed a development company and invested to secure the site in fall 2016, subject to determining feasibility of the construction of a cohousing community of approximately 31 housing units. With the successful completion of the feasibility study, the group selected the name West Wind Harbour Cohousing and contracted with CDC for full cohousing project management through completion of the project.
The members worked with the project architect, Mobius Architecture’s Peter Treuheit, at the first design workshop in January 2017, envisioning a single L-shaped building to maximize water views, privacy, and community connection while also allowing for retention of the existing home with its common amenity potential.
The members have reached some fundamental agreements:
These are general principles only. There is ample opportunity for new members to get involved in developing details of these and other policies.
Regular two-day meetings each month provide opportunities for members to participate in the design, legal, financial, and community building aspects of their project. While CDC provides the expert guidance, the cohousing group members are the ones who make all major decisions in their monthly general meetings. Social occasions like potlucks, walks, and outings are important, too, deepening members’ connections with each other while having fun.