Langley couple Bev and Andrew Gundy had their first child, Leeland, in February 2020.
“Everyone warned us that our world was going to change, that having a child could be really isolating — and then right after Leeland was born we went into our first COVID lockdown!” Bev laughs.
Right now the Gundys are living in a starter apartment, but as their family grows they know they’ll need more space. Finding an affordable home in Langley hasn’t been easy, but just before Christmas the Gundys found a solution: Compass Cohousing. They’ll own an affordable three-bedroom apartment, and enjoy communal spaces where Leeland can play with other kids.
“The rest of our parenting experience isn’t going to be isolating! Leeland will be surrounded by a community of ‘aunties’ and ‘uncles’ who know him and care for him.”
What is Cohousing?
Bev and Andrew first heard of cohousing in university, when Bev toured WindSong, the oldest cohousing community in Canada, as part of a sustainable living class.
“At the time we were living on campus, where our whole community was right down the hall,” Bev says. “I think of cohousing as campus living for grownups.”
However, in this case, each member owns their home as part of a strata. Just like any traditional condo project, they can qualify for a conventional mortgage, build up equity over time and can sell when they choose.
Compass Cohousing has 40 such homes, as well as communal spaces that neighbours share with resources and expertise.
“Rather than each family buying a lawnmower and a washing machine, we can share. Life becomes a little less expensive,” Andrew says.
Andrew’s looking forward to growing vegetables in the rooftop garden, and consulting more experienced gardeners when he runs into trouble.
“I recently tried growing tomatoes in the classroom with my science students, but there’s a lot I don’t know. I’ve been researching on my own, but it will be so much better to be able to ask a neighbour!”
Bev is reasonably handy, so she’s looking forward to using the workshop.
“If we want to add a trellis to our balcony, I’ll know whose door I can knock on for advice.”
Each home has its own kitchen, and there’s also a large kitchen and dining hall in the common house where the Gundys are looking forward to sharing meals.
“The play area was intentionally placed right next to the dining hall, with a big window between the two spaces. When we have community dinners, Leeland will be able to run off to the other room to play and we’ll still be able to keep an eye on him,” Bev says. “Plus he’ll be around other kids — every day will be like summer camp.”
Learning to live in community will take time and effort, but the Gundys say it’s worth it for the companionship they’ll find. And with a well-established decision-making process already in place, they’re optimistic about any challenges that may arise.
“Community makes people stronger! We won’t just be parroting these values to Leeland, it will be demonstrated to him every day.”