A co-housing project is being proposed on a portion of the old Chemainus Elementary School property, located on Elliott Street.
Yonas Jongkind, from Nanaimo-based Amisto Developments Inc., told North Cowichan council at its meeting on Nov. 16 that the co-housing development company is looking to build a combination of townhouses and four-plex units at the site.
He said 25 to 35 units is the perfect size for a co-housing community, and by sharing the soft costs within the larger co-housing project, Amisto can achieve a level of affordability for up to 10 of the units in the long term, with the balance of the homes being market units.
Jongkind said co-housing projects are different from many other neighbourhoods in that they sustain close, supportive communities, and promote a sense of belonging in its individual and family members by providing common facilities and by encouraging open communication and full participation.
He said co-housing communities also provide an atmosphere of safety and respect for the diversity, privacy and uniqueness of their members.
Jongkind said if the proposal for the co-housing project at the old school property site in Chemainus is allowed to proceed, there would be pedestrian connectivity between Elliott Street and Severne Street, and the community would be walkable to all shops and services.
“We’re hoping that council will give us permission to talk to staff about developing a proposal that could then lead to a future council meeting in which we could discuss the purchase of the property,” Jongkind said.
“We didn’t want to go through a lot of staff and our time to develop a proposal unless there was some level of interest from council.”
Mayor Rob Douglas said Amisto’s co-housing proposal is a very interesting concept, but it’s the practice of the municipality that no decisions are made on the same day council receives a delegation.
“There’s a lot of history with that property and we’ve had a few concepts brought before us over the years,” he said.
“Our CAO [Ted Swabey] and I already talked about bringing this back to council at an upcoming meeting for further discussion. As a council, some of us are new here and we need to figure out how we want to proceed and, as part of that discussion, what you propose here will be considered.”