Looking for a new kind of community living? Nanaimo’s second cohousing project lifts off to meet growing demand.

The newly formed Lost Lake Cohousing is looking for members to create an intentional community in the north end of Nanaimo.

With a waitlist of more than 20 trying to secure a unit at Pacific Gardens Cohousing in Nanaimo, a new cohousing community has formed to meet the rising demand. 

“It’s very popular, but it’s very hard to set these projects up,” says Yonas Jongkind.

Yonas, Susana Michaelis and Jennifer Mollins of Pacific Gardens Cohousing are organizing the creation of a multigenerational cohousing development at 5180 Universal Place in Nanaimo’s north end. The site location was chosen due to its accessibility to nature, schools and shopping outlets. The intention for the Lost Lake Cohousing project is to have an even number of retired residents and young families. 

An outline of the proposed site at 5180 Universal Place, Nanaimo from Google Maps.
An outline of the proposed site at 5180 Universal Place, Nanaimo from Google Maps. Photo courtesy of Lost Lake Cohousing

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They aim to build around 30 independently owned townhouse-style units with shared indoor and outdoor spaces as well as a few rental and guest suites.    

The offer to buy the three acre, ocean view lot was accepted in late February, and the goal is to gain at least 10 committed members by May 30 willing to invest $50,000 each to be able to finalize the land purchase.

Members who commit during the start of this development will have the opportunity to contribute to the design of their community. The target price for a two bedroom unit will be around $525,000. “We will have a better price estimate once we know the effect on the price of the geotechnical requirements and have the units designed so we know their size and number of bathrooms,” Yonas says. 

See the realtor video for an aerial view of the proposed cohousing property. 

Cohousing is a community living model where residents often have their own, self-contained homes that are connected to common spaces. These shared spaces give residents opportunities to connect with fellow neighbours through communal dinners and dancing, community gardens and workshops. 

Residents share in ownership of this communal environment and often are involved in the designing, planning and development of the space. 

Related: During a time of social isolation, cohousing builds community

Yonas has lived in and been a part of many cohousing projects like Wind Song in Langley,  Yarrow Ecovillage, and Pacific Gardens in Nanaimo. He actively organized the creation of the  Vancouver Cohousing project. He says typically projects like these are designed by people with no experience of cohousing living, which has resulted in ineffective use of common spaces. 

Yonas hopes his personal experience and knowledge of cohousing will produce a community focused building design that can serve as a model for other cohousing cooperatives across British Columbia. “The most important cohousing design pattern is that you have a kitchen positioned a certain way. The noise in the kitchen doesn’t come in, but it’s very connected to the dining room. On the other side of the dining rooms, you would have a lounge space,” explains Yonas. 

Jennifer Mollins, Yonas Jongkind and Susana Michaelis of Pacific Gardens Cohousing stand in a brightly lit courtyard.
Jennifer Mollins, Yonas Jongkind and Susana Michaelis (left to right) of Pacific Gardens Cohousing are helping create a new cohousing community in service of rising demand. Photo courtesy of Lost Lake Cohousing
Pacific Gardens Cohousing features an outdoor common space for residents to gather. A person is shown watering the garden in front of a community dining patio.
Pacific Gardens Cohousing features an outdoor common space for residents to gather. Photo courtesy of Pacific Gardens Cohousing

He also adds that instilling a sociocracy decision-making model could create the best community environment, where residents discuss topics in small groups that connect to a larger discussion to make decisions based on consent.

Once built, Lost Lake Cohousing will be among 18 cohousing projects across British Columbia. The hope is to move residents in by 2024. 

Lost Lake Cohousing is hosting site tours, cohousing information sessions, “getting it built” workshops and social events throughout the upcoming months to members of the community interested in learning more.  [end]

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