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This article was published 17/9/2018 (962 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
My house is your house.
This concept rings true for a group of people trying to launch Winnipeg’s first co-housing community.
Prairie Rivers Cohousing will host a free information session on Sept. 25 at 7 p.m. at the Church of Christ, 170 St. Mary’s Rd. (The group is not affiliated with the church.)
Frances Woolison is one of seven people from five households who have banded together to form a small startup group.
They hope to generate interest to set up co-housing within a five-kilometre radius of the Portage and Main intersection, aiming to be part of the efforts to revitalize downtown.
Co-housing originated in Denmark and there are currently about 285 communities established or forming in the U.S. and about 30 in Canada. Most co-housing communities involve between 20 and 30 households.
"We’re looking for more people to join us, since we can’t proceed with buying land and getting involved with professionals to design and develop this community without having more financial support," she said.
"Because of the cost of the land downtown, this particular community would probably be in the form of an apartment complex of some kind. Each person or household has their own unit, which they would own in a condo-style model — complete with their own kitchen, dining room, bedroom, living room, whatever they need. Sometimes there’s one-bedroom units or two-bedroom units, depending on the size of the household."
In addition, each household would have access to and partial ownership of spaces that could include a playroom, guest rooms, exercise room, art studio or whatever else the group prefers.
"These communities are specifically built to meet the needs of the people in them," she said.
"There’s always a common dining room and kitchen because community is an
important part of the co-housing lifestyle. Eating together is the way people build bonds."
The households decide how often to host common meals, she added.
"Usually two or three times per week, a small team will cook for that particular evening. Then people can come and have dinner with the whole group but there’s no obligation to participate," Woolison said.
"If you have a large enough group, you might have to cook once a month but then you get to eat the rest of the time without doing the work."
The co-housing concept is ideal for singles and seniors who might feel socially isolated, she said.
"It’s also a great model for young families who find it too much to manage a house as well as two careers and raise children," she said. "This simplifies their life considerably."
Woolison says she and her husband have spent the past 35 years in the same River Heights home and are now ready for a change.
"We raised our four kids here, and now it’s bigger than we need. I happened to hear a CBC documentary a couple years ago about co-housing and it sounded so interesting," she said.
"The idea is that working at things together is a lot more fun than doing it yourself. It’s all about community and combatting social isolation. In this case, the whole group works together and bonds in the process of creating the development so you’re not moving in with strangers. You’re moving in with people you already know and trust."
For more information, visit www.prairieriverscohousing.com or call Woolison at 204-488-0875.