British Columbia

New Westminster mayor reflects on leaving single family home for condo

Many people with growing families may tend to purchase a larger home with more bedrooms and a backyard, but not Jonathan Cote, the mayor of New Westminster, B.C.

Jonathan Cote says condo living makes more financial sense, but there are challenges

Jonathan Cote moved his family from a single family home to a condo five years ago.

Many people with growing families may tend to purchase a larger home with more bedrooms and a backyard, but not Jonathan Cote, the mayor of New Westminster, B.C.

Cote moved his five-member family into a condominium five years ago after realizing that while a larger, single-family home was attractive, the mortgage payments weren't.

"So we started looking at other options, and quickly we found a condo that kind of met our needs in terms of space, but also some of our goals of wanting to live in a walkable, interesting, transit-friendly community," Cote told The Early Edition's Rick Cluff.

Cote recently penned a blog post about some of his observations from living in a three-bedroom, one-den condo with his wife and three daughters.

While there are many benefits to living in a high-density, transit-friendly neighbourhood, such as walkability, the ability to save on gas money, and not having to maintain a yard, Cote says there are downsides as well.

"In our old neighbourhood, you would always be running into people in the front yard, whether you're working on the garden or fixing the house — you just develop relationships," he said.

"Really in condos, you get that chance in the elevator in the morning when you're kind of rushing to work, but you don't have the same opportunity to kind of develop those neighbourhood connections."

Cote says outdoor playtime for his kids also requires more planning, as the children have to be taken to nearby parks and schools and can't just be sent "out the front door to play in the cul de sac and play with their friends."

To make condo-living more conducive to fostering a sense of community, Cote suggests urban designers focus more on developing community spaces in nearby parks, and create more units at the ground level to make it easier for neighbours to interact.

To hear the full story, listen to the audio labelled: New Westminster mayor reflects on condo life

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