What is cohousing?

A cohousing community is a type of intentional community composed of private homes that share community facilities. The community is planned, owned and managed by the residents, who are directly involved in governance of the community and who typically participate in activities such as community meals, childcare, games and gardening. Common areas are shared and managed together by the residents but our living areas are privately owned and maintained.

GrassRoutes is a consumers cooperative. For the build, we propose to set up a condominium corporation. But this will be a condo that won't use hired outside management and its articles of incorporation and bylaws will be worded in a manner that assures adherence to cohousing principles including democratic decision making.

We will establish a development company to oversee and finance the development process. Members of this company will be future residents of Speedvale Cohousing.

The development company will be a legally structured enterprise charged with the responsibility of completing the municipal approvals process, arranging for construction financing, hiring a general contractor for the build and monitoring work progress through the services of a site supervisor and a quantity surveyor should our lending institution assign one to the project. Members of the company will be persons, planning to live in the condo, who get involved at an early stage because they are willing to help with the planning and finance and because they want to participate in the design process for the build. The development company will be conventional corporation controlled by GrassRoutes and will use a collaborative governance and decision-making process like sociocracy.

Members of GrassRoutes pay for and take possession of their homes. Payments will include initial deposits and final payments. 

No. Communes own property collectively and residents work together and may share their income. In our case, the units are privately owned, and we do not have a community enterprise or otherwise share income.

It has no political or religious affiliation but our work on this project is informed by progressive environmental and social values.

We are currently in the approval stage. The finalized rezoning application was received by the City on Nov. 24, 2022 and Council approved our application this year on Feb 14. We now commence the process of site plan approval and detailed design. If all goes well, including securing financing, construction can start in the spring of 2025 with occupancy in 2026. This schedule depends on the successful formation in 2023 of the development company discussed above, and it also assumes a relatively trouble-free design and construction process.

We expect units will be available at market value for condo apartments with comparable amenities in Guelph. The final price will depend on the cost of materials and contractors, both of which have been quite volatile post COVID. 

At current market prices, housing is expensive for most households, so we are also exploring financing and design options to make our units more affordable.

Yes. You get a say in the final building design and other decisions. You are also assured of a unit in the new build. Some cohousing developments also provide early entrants with a financial incentive. This option will be considered when we launch into the site plan approval process.

The development will be designed with safety and security in mind. Access will be controlled and limited to residents and guests. The structure will be constructed to minimize fire risk using measures such as fire-resistant materials, sprinklers, and a fire alarm system. We intend to install emergency power backup in the event of a prolonged outage, and water supply backup based on a rainwater harvesting system. The opportunity for bulk purchasing can be used to maintain emergency supplies for residents.

We address this question when we draft our condominium charter and bylaws. Decision making will use a democratic process called sociocracy.

Yes. All units are fully self-contained apartments. But you will also have access to a larger community kitchen for tasks like preparation of community meals, group activities like canning or baking for everyone, and storage of bulk frozen and dry goods.

Certainly! Many people who are drawn to cohousing are introverts who value their alone time but still wish to live in community. Each unit is separate and private and residents are expected to respect each others privacy.

Residents are expected to participate in committees and may assume direct responsibility for tasks like book keeping, common area cleaning, gardening and minor repairs rather than contracting this work out. Chores are a part of living in cohousing just like they are when you have a detached home, only you will have others to share the work in a cohousing community.

This is up to the residents. For instance, they might opt for monthly or weekly potlucks or even a daily meal prepared collaboratively in the community kitchen. These meals are an opportunity to stay connected with the other residents and chat informally. All community meals will respect individual dietary preferences.

Pets will be allowed subject to community decisions regarding how they are managed.

A cohousing community is meant to have residents who are committed to living in the community, so unit owners who want to only be landlords will not likely be allowed. However we recognize that people may want to rent their unit if they have to leave for a period of time, for example, for work or school. A final decision about this type of rental will be made by the membership.

The community may also choose to keep one unit as a short-term rental unit that can be used to host visitors.   

The backyard has large treed native plant gardens that are over 20 years old. These will remain but will continue to be developed by the residents. There are also areas now used for small fruits, herbs and vegetables and the community will decide how these will be used in the future; perhaps they will remain or they may be converted, for example, into kids play areas. We also hope to have large planters on the building terraces which could be used for herbs and seasonal vegetables.

Most households will have access to one space, and we will have on site car share available to households. The car share will use electric vehicles and eventually we expect all vehicles on site to be electric. The parking lot will be equipped with electric vehicle charging stations.

There will also be a bicycle parking garage and we could even have a bike-share program using e-bikes. 

The kind of community we envision is one that is made up of people from a wide range of backgrounds, ages, abilities, religious affiliations, identities and life experiences. The building is designed with accessibility in mind. 

Guelph Ontario is a thriving community of 125,000 located about 100 Km west of Toronto. Often showing up on Canada's "most livable communities" lists, Guelph features a vibrant downtown core as well as an exciting arts, music and culture scene, scenic walking trails, some bike-friendly streets, and many heritage buildings. Community life is enriched by the presence of the University of Guelph and a campus of Conestoga College.

Rich in history, Guelph is also a progressive, forward-looking city with a strong social and environmental focus. It is situated on land that is steeped in rich Indigenous history. Archaeological evidence indicates Indigenous Peoples were present in the area now known as Guelph as early as 11,000 years ago. Up until their collapse in the 15th century, the Attawandaron, commonly known as the Neutral peoples lived, farmed, and hunted here. In 1690, the Mississauga peoples entered the area. The land was purchased from the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation of the Anishinaabek Peoples by the British in 1784; this transfer of land is covered by Upper Canada Treaty No. 3, 1792.

Often called "The Royal City", Guelph was started in 1827 by Scottish novelist John Galt, who named it Guelph after a family name of the British royals at the time. Based on a traditional European design of roads radiating from a focal point, its downtown street plan features squares, broad main streets and narrow side streets, resulting in a variety of block sizes and shapes.


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