A new way of living is coming to the South Shore as co-housing project arrives

A large crowd gathered in construction site listens to a person speak
Bridgewater Mayor David Mitchell addresses crowd at the groundbreaking ceremony for Treehouse Village Ecovillage. Photo by Ed Halverson.
Ed Halverson - QCCR/CJQC - LiverpoolNS | 25-08-2021

After three years of planning, Atlantic Canada’s first co-housing project is becoming a reality.

A groundbreaking ceremony for Treehouse Village ecohousing took place Saturday in Bridgewater.

The 30 unit co-housing project is the dream of co-founders Cate and Leon deVreede.

Cate says they didn’t take the conventional route to buying a house.

“We initially started when we were still renting an apartment. We skipped the single-home ownership and went to let’s build a whole neighbourhood,” said deVreede. “That’s the ambitious part maybe, or the dreamer part in us.”

Cohousing is unique in that the future residents work together to decide on the design and pay for the project. It balances privacy with community involvement.

Homes in Treehouse Village will be arranged to allow residents to easily socialize.

Each family will live in their own townhouse-style home but will have access to a large communal kitchen, playroom, library, co-working space, fitness area and dining room for shared meals.

Cate deVreede says going through the process of figuring out how decisions will be made to planning the design has helped the community form before the first foundation is poured and she’s excited to see it taking shape.

“This is really the first physical example that we have of the social community that’s come together already to design and get this thing built,” said deVreede.

A man stands behind a woman speaking into a microphone

Cate and Leon deVreede address the assembled crowd. Photo Ed Halverson

Treehouse Village isn’t just socially progressive. When it is complete, the development will be Atlantic Canada’s largest multi-unit Passive House construction.

That means all structures will be built and tested to meet extremely high-energy efficient standards to lower energy costs and save on long term maintenance.

Bridgewater Mayor David Mitchell was on hand for the groundbreaking ceremony. He is pleased not only with how the development is attracting people to the town from all over but also how the ecohousing project aligns with the energy saving goals of the town’s Energize Bridgewater initiative.

“As we try to be more green, reduce our carbon footprint and try to find innovative ways to reduce our energy consumption, that this is the largest passive community in Nova Scotia, it’s a great template that we can build upon,” said Mitchell.

Of the 30 units only six are still available.

After three years of planning, the development is scheduled to be complete in the fall of 2022.

Leon deVreede says when Treehouse Village is complete, moving truck companies better be ready.

“We’re looking at having everything done and having everyone move in together so we can be a community, all at once,” said deVreede. “[It’s a] single-phase build, the money’s in place. It’s going to happen.”

E-mail: edhalversonnews@gmail.com
Twitter: @edwardhalverson

To listen to the broadcast of this story, press play below.