Saskatchewan

'All about community': Co-housing project in Regina set to open in June

It's nice to know your neighbours, but imagine sharing space with them every day. Now imagine doing that with 40 other people.

Prairie Spruce Commons called the first of its kind in the city

(L to R) Dave Lareau, Lois Adams and Henning Mortensen are part of the Prairie Spruce Commons co-housing project. (Nichole Huck/CBC)

It's nice to know your neighbours, but imagine sharing space with them every day. Now imagine doing that with 40 other people.

That idea, called co-housing, is coming to Regina in the form of Prairie Spruce Commons.

It works like a condo, in that people buy a suite and pay fees for upkeep. But the communal aspect is different.

In the Regina building, there are 21 suites and each person or family has their own space, but there are a number of shared areas as well.

Those include a living space, a communal dining area and a workshop.

Prairie Spruce Commons will be the first community of its kind in the city.

David Lareau is one of the people who spearheaded the idea locally and he will be one of the residents when it's set to be ready in June. 

"Co-housing is all about community," he said. 

"There's the people and the relationships, which is by far the most important thing, but it's supported by where we live and the residences."

Lareau said the community members designed the building with an architect. It's equipped with soundproofing, in-floor heating, lots of windows and extra insulation. They're also planning on putting solar panels on the roof some time down the road. 

Henning Mortensen has also signed on for co-housing. He says he's drawn to the sense of community. 

"Even just having somebody to do a job with, you know, if it snows and we have to shovel the walks, it's great to be able to tag another community member and say 'Hey let's go shovel the walks,'" he said. 

So in a house with 40 people, how do you problem solve? Mortensen said that the community makes decisions by consensus, not voting. If a person blocks a decision, which they're only allowed to do on the basis that it violates the community's values, then that person forms a committee to try and come up with a different, better solution to the problem. 

"That can take a little bit longer, but it has two effects. One, we make better decisions because we have more input into the decision and two, it builds community," he said.

Lareau said that people have to be willing to learn about co-housing before jumping in. 

"We fully disclose what we're all about because we want people to understand what they're getting into and it's exciting and it's positive but it takes a bit of effort for somebody to learn about it," he said. 

"I'm not saying we're the panacea, we're the be all and the end all, because all of our community members have other social relationships as well," he said. 

"But this is intentional and it's designed to help that."

About the Author

Emily Pasiuk is a reporter and web writer for CBC Saskatchewan and an associate producer for The Morning Edition. She has also reported at CTV Saskatoon and written for Global Regina. Reach her at emily.pasiuk@cbc.ca.

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