Children living at the Ecovillage play on the newly-deposited soil that will form 18 new cohousing units.

Children living at the Ecovillage play on the newly-deposited soil that will form 18 new cohousing units.

Housing capacity to double at Ecovillage

The Groundswell cohousing community at Yarrow's Ecovillage has started its next construction phase, doubling the number of family units.

Chilliwack’s own Groundswell cohousing community at the Ecovillage, a trendsetting housing development in Yarrow, is more than doubling its capacity with last week’s start of the next phase of construction.

The development has married the convenience and security of a tight-knit community with the privacy of independent home ownership. Residents live separate lives in their own duplex homes, but often join together for aspects of daily living, including community meals, recreation, and child care.

The existing 15 homes sit atop land that residents have termed the Ecovillage, which encompasses the Yarrow Deli shop, an organic vegetable farm and farm stand, a playground, and an eco-conscious wastewater treatment centre.

“The Ecovillage is designed to foster community and I think it succeeds beautifully. Cohousing provides a balance between community and privacy and it seems to me that we humans need both,” said resident Natalie Jones.

Groundswell now has sixty-five residents, thirty of whom are children. Four-fifths of residents work on site, and include farmers, teachers, and social service employees.

Construction just started on an additional 18 units, and is expected to complete within a year. A few units are still up for sale.

These units will bring the final grand total to 33 family homes for the Groundswell cohousing community.

In addition, Groundswell is planning a 17-unit seniors’ residence, to be built within the next few years. The suites will be fully independent, but a little removed from the hustle and bustle of the family homes to allow for a quieter life.

Future plans also include installing a public town square, and relocating Yarrow Deli into a renovated version of the existing heritage barn.

At Friday’s groundbreaking ceremony, city councillor Jason Lum recognized that residents have had to get through many steps in the building of the Ecovillage, and thanked the community for their patience. Mayor Sharon Gaetz echoed the sentiment in a release.

“This project has generated great interest not only in City Hall but in the community at large. It is a new idea for Chilliwack and like most innovative projects, we were challenged with many unforeseen twists and turns,” said Gaetz. “I’m very pleased with how it is turning out. Our city staff has worked closely with the Ecovillage’s project team to resolve any issues and move things forward. I offer my hearty congratulations to the Ecovillage for its success and thank the members of the team for their hard work in bringing this project to fruition.”