Wolf Willow co-housing offers alternative for Saskatoon seniors

Wolf Willow offers co-housing for older adults in Saskatoon. The development is designed with older adults in mind with features meant to foster community.

Development designed with aging in mind

Wolf Willow in Saskatoon is Canada's first co-housing community for older adults. (Josh Lynn/CBC)

As the oldest of the baby boomers turn 70, CBC looks at the changes ahead as this group enters its golden years. This series asks if we are ready for the challenges ahead. 

Wolf Willow may look like an ordinary condominium building in Saskatoon's Riversdale neighbourhood but the development offers co-housing for older adults. 

"[It's] a community of people who have chosen to live together and age in place and support one another as those very natural processes evolve," explained Margo Day, during a visit by Saskatoon Morning.

Day was among the original group who hatched the idea of creating Wolf Willow back in 2008.

After recruiting like-minded people, they pooled their resources to recruit an architect and a builder to construct the development which opened its doors in 2012. 
Margo Day has been part of the Wolf Willow co-housing project since its inception. (Josh Lynn/CBC)

Designed for co-housing

Wolf Willow is designed with older adults and co-housing in mind, with many shared areas intended to foster community.

While there is an emphasis on socializing, Eileen Makenzie, another Wolf Willow resident, said there is plenty of privacy as well.

"If you're an introverted person and you want to go and stay in your apartment, you can do that. You can be as private or as public as you want," said Makenzie. 
Wolf Willow offers spaces for residents to work on projects, exercise and to share meals. (Josh Lynn/CBC)

"But the thing is, if you stay in your apartment too long, then you're going to have someone knocking on the door saying 'Are you okay?' and that has to be okay with the person too."

About options

Louise Clarke made the decision to make the move Wolf Willow from her house after her partner became enamoured with the idea of co-housing. Clarke originally wasn't originally thinking about moving, but quickly warmed up to the idea. 
Eileen Makenzie feels better knowing she has neighbours who will check on her from time to time. (Josh Lynn/CBC)

"Moving is a lot of hard work and I wouldn't want to leave that until I was too old and decrepit and didn't have any choices any more," said Clarke.

"I think that's what a lot of us like about this idea of co-housing for older adults, is that we do have some control."