Today I spent six productive hours in a workshop focused on strategies for housing the aging population in our rural areas. The event was co-sponsored by Island Health and the CVRD, and was hosted by my home community, Creekside Commons Cohousing.
Many rural homeowners are getting to the point in life where continued upkeep of their properties and buildings is too much work. However, relocating to town would take them away from neighbours, the landscape and a lifestyle that they still love. There’s an obvious need for housing options that embody these rural values through the later-life transition, especially as people lose their ability to drive.
Recently, the CVRD completed an OCP process that revealed strong public interest in the topic of intentional community. Ideas included cohousing, shared rural properties for groups of horse-lovers, and tiny home clusters on rural land. At today’s workshop, the planners spoke favourably about the prospect of creating new living options outside of urban areas, and intimated that proposals would be received with interest and supported in principle.
If plans for these housing strategies were to go forward, they’d be located ideally in identified growth nodes where services (e.g., water) are already in place – for example, Union Bay, Miracle Beach, or Mt. Washington.
Creating these small communities or alternative housing options would allow individuals to age-in-place within familiar surroundings. It’s a timely and exciting idea, and one that I’d like to promote and explore in the near future. All ideas are welcome – please share!