Press Coverage: New Langley cohousing project moves ahead at Township council

[Editor’s Note: Following is an article that appeared in the Langley Advance Times on September 27, 2021. It was written by Matthew Claxton.]

Langley’s second planned co-housing complex took a big step forward in September as Township council gave the first phase of its rezoning a thumbs up.

Council passed first and second reading of a rezoning and development permit for Compass Cohousing, a proposed 40-unit project for the corner of 203rd Street and 66th Avenue, not far from the Township Civic Facility.

The next phase is a public hearing.

Cohousing is an alternative way of developing and running multi-family housing complexes.

In most developments, a builder will put up condos or townhouses, sell them to individual buyers, and those buyers will run the common areas through a strata association.

In cohousing, a group of residents comes together first, finds a location, plans a building, and raises the funds. A core group of the future residents is involved in design from the beginning. While they fall under the same rules and regulations as strata developments, cohousing usually has much more hands-on and community-oriented management from its resident-owners.

The owner-planners have made choices that set Compass apart from a typical local development.

Normally, 10 per cent of units in a new development have to be made “adaptable,” which means they need to be built with future modifications for seniors and people with physical disabilities in mind.

In Compass, the plan is to make about 20 to 21 units, half of the total, adaptable, said Elizabeth Roseanu, one of the organizers of the Compass Cohousing group.

“We’re going way beyond what a typical developer would do,” said Rosenau.

Another example is that 40 of 60 parking stalls will be set up to be easily adapted for electric vehicle plug ins. The charging systems won’t be there on opening day, but the infrastructure to allow them to be easily installed will already be in place in the background.

“It’ll be charge-ready,” Rosenau said.

A mechanical engineer has been working with the team on cleaner, greener heating options.

“Every single unit will have the option of a heat pump,” she said.

Heat pumps use less energy to heat and cool housing.

Finally, there will be a solar-ready space on the roof, if the future residents ever vote to install solar panels to provide part of their energy supply.

The initial group that organized the core and worked on the design at Compass was relatively small, but Rosenau said that as they get closer to completion, more people are coming on board and putting down money to buy units.

If given final approval and built, Compass will be Langley’s second cohousing project, after Windsong, in Walnut Grove. Windsong was one of the first cohousing projects built in B.C. in the 1990s.

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