Hi all. I've lived away from home (Canada) for some years now, and am at the point in my life where I'm dreaming of returning and setting up a long-term community-oriented residence with other like-minded people.
I've done a whole lot of searching online for ecovillages and cohousing setups, preferably in BC or Ontario, but I am open to considering other provinces. Unfortunately I haven't found a lot of options over the years. So in case anyone can help, I'm just going to list my ideal criteria, and maybe with time I'll get some helpful responses
I'm dreaming that my future home will:
- have some degree of focus on permaculture principles
- be close enough to a city that I could reasonably expect to commute and find work to support myself
- present opportunities for spiritual learning and connection, whether informally or formally organized. Although not formally religious myself, my beliefs tend toward Buddhism.
- offer alternative schooling options, such as Waldorf or Steiner type education, nearby or on-site
I'm hoping in the next few years to be able to buy a bit of land and/or build a small eco-friendly home. Community is so important for me - I can't imagine life being nearly as fun or meaningful on my own as it would be with other permie-sorts to build something really amazing with.
Thanks in advance for any tips or words of support.
Try the slocan valley in BC southern interior. Ticks all your boxes. I doubt there would be much advertised online but once you were there talking with people you'd find all kinds of opportunities. I bet there'd be a lot of "well we weren't officially looking for someone but now that you mention it..." situations
Welcome to permies! All of Onterrible and BC is a mighty big area to select from! I can't speak for ON but can try and shed a little light on my corner of BC..
What line of work you are/plan to be in may be the main limiting factor.. if you can expect to find employment in a town of 10k, you've got oodles of options. If you need a big city, obviously there's just the one...
I only know of one formal Ecovillage on the island, O.U.R. Ecovillage near shawnigan lake. They run a lot of workshops, neat stuff, but expensive.
The regulatory environment is not at all friendly to multiple dwellings on the same property in most cases, which makes an Ecovillage something of an uphill battle. Particularly for ALR land. This is a damned shame IMO; farms are hurting for workers and people are hurting for affordable housing, and never the two shall meet, legally speaking.
In practice this means more groupings of like minded people with separate properties, and/or folks doing the tinyhome/rv thing in the back of a farm off the books. Hard to spot from a distance!
There are Montessori, Waldorf, and similar schools, at least through elementary level, scattered around the island. I have heard excellent things about Arrowsmith independent school, which was previously a Waldorf school, near Coombs. There is a Montessori school a few minutes away. There are both Waldorf and Montessori options in Courtenay/Comox.
I know nothing about organized spirituality, I'm afraid.
As far as Van Isle communities go, working north:
Victoria and surrounding regions is overly full, overly expensive, has godawful traffic, and is generally not my thing. I grew up there, and stayed too long... There is certainly permaculturey stuff going on despite this. I felt like a lot of it, especially some of the volunteer stuff, was more the feel-good category, as opposed to the meaningful-change category... The Highlands has two very permie types on the council, and seems generally amazing community/politics wise. The Saanich Peninsula is the southernmost of the three proper agricultural valleys, but is pretty overrun with McMansions and Horse People...
I think that the Cowichan Valley probably has the densest concentration of both agriculture and permie-stuff, and when I was there seemed less fussy about annoying bylaws; the farmy sorts were a big chunk of council as I recall. I'd lump shawnigan/cobble hill into this category, just minus the soil.
Nanaimo is... well, once I attended a cobworkshop with quite a few people who lived in Nanaimo, and it appeared that none of them actually liked the place either. The closest anyone would come was 'there are a few kind of neat areas, but they're all really far apart.' There appears to be damned near no permaculturey stuff happening in Nanaimo.
There is a decent pocket of agricultural stuff around Coombs; easy access to qualicum beach and parksville, which are tourism/retirement oriented towns, and then pretty central between port alberni, nanaimo, and courtenay for larger towns.
Port Alberni is a resource town; land is probably cheaper than anywhere else on the island near a decent sized town. Generally considered a bit of a hole, but I really don't know it well.
I'm in the Comox valley; it's less overpriced up here, and quite convenient to be between two small cities. Courtenay seems permy-friendly. Campbell River is a resource town, boom/bust, plenty of bars. Local government includes the rural area in three sections and the three population centers of courtenay/comox/cumberland; based on population, the townies have a lot more council votes, which is not real optimal imo.
I just moved here, and have been buried in the various urgencies on my newly acquired long abandoned farm, so know less about this area. So far so good. I've had two different complete strangers offer to lend me a tractor, and two of my neighbours are in the beginning stages of permyish farming ventures.
If your search brings you out this way, I can offer a place to camp: no house, power, or other amenities yet so things are a bit spartan. Would love to have more permie neighbours, and am keen on shared resources. I'm still trying to puzzle through what community looks like in the context of the various local departments of sadness.. getting a feel for how things actually work, vs how the paper-pushers say they work, will take some time.
My area is pretty much the end of the line as far as sizable towns on the island.
Thank you all so much for your replies. It seems there may be quite a bit more out there than I am finding on the internet! I have been looking at ic.org, ecovillage.org and cohousing.ca for years now but it always seemed as though there's been very few options in Canada.
FYI as for employment, I'd probably need to be within commuting distance of a place with more than 10,000 inhabitants... but as long as there's a decent hospital with good facilities, there'd be hope for me. However hubby would probably have to work in a big city. We've discussed the possibility of him living in a studio apartment in the city for some fraction of the week, then coming "home" for long weekends for example. Probably we'd need to be within a 2-3 hour drive of a large city for that to work though.
Thanks again for your input. I look forward to continuing to check on my little thread in future. We're hoping to start visiting some places and checking out possible future homes this coming year
this is supposed to be a surprise, but it smells like a tiny ad: