[Editor’s Note: Following is an article that was prepared for the Black Press News network.]

Why these Surrey grandparents chose Compass Cohousing for their next home

For 35 years, Pat and Wendy O’Connor have lived in a two-storey home on a cul-de-sac in Surrey.It’s where they raised their kids, alongside a wonderful community of neighbours doing the same. They hosted birthday parties and end-of-season wind-ups for their children’s sports teams, and tended to a large yard with four fruit trees.

Now their kids are grown, the last family from those precious years has moved out, and tending to the fruit trees has become more of a challenge.

“The new neighbours are lovely, but we don’t have the same community,” Wendy says.

“We always knew downsizing would be our future. We don’t need all of the rooms in this big house anymore,” Pat adds.

So the couple started the search for their next community, and in January of this year they became equity members of Compass Cohousing.

“The best man at our wedding has lived at WindSong for years, so we were familiar with cohousing. We followed Compass as their plans progressed, and eventually put money down to reserve our spot,” Wendy says.

Compass Cohousing in Langley will include many car-free common spaces to gather with neighbours, share skills or share a laugh.
Compass Cohousing in Langley will include many car-free common spaces to gather with neighbours, share skills or share a laugh.

Checking all the boxes

Pat and Wendy had a long list of wants and needs for their next home, and Compass Cohousing covers almost all of them.

  • Location: Pat is a retired transit driver and he loves that Compass is near major bus routes. Located near the corner of 203rd Street and 66th Avenue, it’s walking distance to grocery stores and other shopping — and also boasts three different walking trails only a block away. “We’ll be able to walk our dog without getting in the car,” Pat says. They’ll also be closer to their two children, and the grandchildren they often babysit.

  • Kid-friendly: Pat and Wendy are very happy to be involved in raising both sets of grandkids, and love that Compass is a place where children are welcomed, not just tolerated. “We looked at a few age-restricted gated communities in Langley, but the bylaws aren’t totally welcoming for children,” Wendy says. Compass includes an indoor children’s play area attached to the common room, plus a car-free grass-covered courtyard. “We recently hosted a Compass social at our house and we brought two of our grandkids along. They’re already becoming part of the multi-cultural, multi-generational community.”

  • Environmentally conscious: Pat and Wendy already know their next car will be electric, and Compass will have EV charging stations roughed into the parking stalls. The building will also use heat pumps, and be solar-panel-ready. “I’m very environmentally aware that we can’t be doing what we’ve done in the past — that’s what led us to this climate crisis. So we’re very happy that Compass is leading the way in that,” Pat says.

  • Shared resources: Inflation and interest rates are on the rise, and a downpayment for a condo at Compass is no cheaper than anywhere else in Langley. But daily expenses are significantly reduced: shared internet and cable, shared resources like a snowblower, lawnmower and a workshop full of tools, a gym populated with equipment donated by residents. Pat and Wendy are downsizing, but they’re not concerned about a lack of space — there’s room for their bikes in the shared storage, where neighbours will also share canoes and kayaks. When it’s time to host family from out of town, they’ll reserve the two guest suites, so everyone has a comfortable place to stay.

Every two weeks equity members meet to continue planning, making decisions by consensus, and developing the strong relationships that form the foundation of the community.

“I already call many of them good friends,” Wendy says.

Compass Cohousing has passed its fourth and final reading at Langley Council, and construction is expected to be complete by summer 2025. The building is well over 60 per cent sold, but there are still a good variety of units on offer. To learn more, visit compasscohousing.com or email members@compasscohousing.com.