FAQ

All question are good questions

We continuously add content to this section. The more questions we get the richer this section will become.

To start here are some basic questions and answers

Feel free to ask your questions here


What recreation and services does Yarrow and its surrounding area offer to adults and families in Groundswell?

The little town of Yarrow has many conveniences to offer.
The local branch of the FVR library, the community hall with classes and childcare services, and Community School for grades K to 6
-- local community volunteering
--Heron Reserve
This beautiful reserve is home to a large colony of Great Blue Herons, many of whom hunt in our fields for their dinners. With level and extensive trails there is plenty of opportunity to observe the rich wildlife found in a wetland habitat while taking an easy stroll. For those who prefer a bird's eye view, the multi-storied viewing tower is a lovely climb. (JJ)
--local shopping- esp organic ( turkey, goat cheese etc)
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Yarrow Pioneer Park   was recently redesigned with an incredible amount of community input. This treed green space is home to a great skate park, with a bowl and a separate play area that caters to all ages. Swings, slides, spinners, pole and natural play features both encourage building mobility and imaginative play. A shaded lawn to rest on and a stationary bike or elliptical are there for your enjoyment as well.(JJ)
--dyke walks/biking
--local amenities-- gym, P.O.
--nature walks - wildlife sightings
—snowshoeing and world class rapids ~1/2 hour away, up beautiful Chilliwack Lake Road. (PM)
--Rainbow Gas
How did you get so many houses in one spot?

The ecovillage is 25 acres. Some people have pulled land out of ALR to subdivide into half acre lots; if our 25 acres were treated in that way, it would have resulted in fifty homes. Over a number of years of negotiations with the City of Chilliwack, we jointly created an ecovillage zoning which allowed us to preserve 20 acres of ALR, build 33 homes to date on 2.5 of the acres and leave room for a 2.5 acre commercial/apartment development.
How did you do the septic?

We did not put in a septic as the size of the septic field required would have significantly encroached on our farm land. We did work with a professional company (Arden Consulting) to develop and install a wastewater treatment system that finishes in a series of constructed treatment wetlands that we planted with native vegetation. These wetlands filter our wastewater resulting in the discharge of clean water, and are also providing habitat for birds and amphibians.
What is so sustainable about those houses? They look huge!

Our homes are smaller than an average house in Chilliwack. Of the 33 homes, 3 are a bit over 2000 sq feet, 16 are approximately 1000 sq feet and the remaining 14 homes are about 1500 sq feet. As all but 2 homes are multi-family (duplex,
triplex, 4 and 5 plex) we have used less materials in the construction to begin with - less siding, roofing, concrete bases and so on, plus, we have less heat loss overall due in part to the shared internal walls. The 2 single family homes are the 'beehive' or dome homes, unique structures in themselves
What religion are you?

We are not a religious community. Our community is comprised of diverse people with diverse beliefs and world-views.
So do you all work at the Yarrow Deli Coop or on the farm?

No, the Deli is privately owned and run by the wonderful people who work there. The farm is leased annually, by acre, to organic farmers who sell their products at the farm stand, through a Community Supported Agriculture program, and at local Farmer's Markets.Many of the farmers do live here, but a few live off site.
What kind of jobs do people have there?

Well, this is a broad question, but we have project managers, professors, teachers, systems administrators, scientists, directors, tradesmen and consultants, to name a few. Business owners, farmers and retired folk too. Many of us work offsite, telecommute or both.
What is an ‘ecovillage’?

The definition of an ecovillage, according to the Global Ecovillage Network is: "an intentional or traditional community using local participatory processes to holistically integrate ecological, economic, social, and cultural dimensions of sustainability in order to regenerate social and natural environments." Basically, we are a group of people with the desire to work with each other within the village, as well as connect to the larger community, developing positive relationships and fostering care for our planet and its resources.
Can I bring my lizard/cat /dog/llama to live with me in Groundswell Cohousing?

We’re an animal-friendly village, for sure.  And we want to make sure our pets remain good neighbours to all around them. All residents who have animals that go outside, are automatically members of our Pet Team.  Our Pet Policy may be viewed here
Small caged pets
If your lizard is small, remains confined in your own home and has no impact at all on your neighbours, like guinea pigs and birds in cages, and fish in aquaria do, then yes, it’s invited.
Cats
 We ask that newly arriving cats be kept indoors.  This avoids the inevitable issues with cats, that occur in a closely-spaced neighbourhood—mostly those about cats messing in other people’s gardens, and catching birds.
Dogs
Dogs are welcome companion villagers and can earn extra privileges with their good behavior and the permission of the village.  We ask newcomers to meet with our Pet Team  to discuss our pet policy ( attached here), in order to make a smooth transition for their pet into the community. With the dogs here already, and the limited space around our homes, we are approaching a maximum number.
Farm animals
Groundswell is a residential community with no room for larger farm animals, like llamas.  Some Groundswellers have chickens, ducks, and bees, by arranging to lease appropriate space from the Farm Team.  Villagers who own larger animals, such as horses, lease space from neighbouring farms.
What is cohousing?

Cohousing communities consist of privately owned homes plus extensive common areas. They are designed by residents who have chosen to live in a close-knit neighbourhood with a healthy blend of privacy and community.
Cohousing is based on participatory process.
  • Privately-owned, strata-titled homes
  • Extensive common facilities
  • Design that facilitates community and ensures privacy
  • Resident management with consensus orientation
  • sustainability : environment, social, economic, and cultural
  • ( thanks to C. Durrett and Harbourside Cohousing)
Groundswell Cohousing employed Chuck Durrett’s services in our planning and building.
Recommended reading:
Canadian Cohousing Network- www.cohousing.ca 
Diana Leafe Christian-book- ‘Creating a Life Together’  esp. Part three- Thriving in Community
Communities magazine-
Charles Durrett -book-‘Creating Cohousing -building sustainable communities’ , 
Interesting additional resources -
Marshall Rosenburg - book- ‘Non-violent Communication- a language of life’ 
(compassionate communication ) 
Christopher Alexander -book-  ‘A Pattern Language’
What are the common facilities at Groundswell Cohousing?

The Common House is situated in the heart of the village.
It is nearing completion. Very soon, it will offer
large dining room also designed for multi-purposes like yoga, dancing, parties etc
deluxe kitchen for regular meal preparation and also  group/individual  activities —food preserving and canning, beer/wine-making, sharing cooking skills  etc
Kids playroom
guest quarters
Craft room
music room
Teen room
Mail room
Sitting room with fireplace
Community Garden - the garden is a wide swathe of land to south of the homes and north of the farmland.  It has paths for wandering, personal plots for residents and common areas for sitting, BBQ, children’s areas etc
Every resident has an opportunity to join the garden team and arrange for a plot in the garden.
Storage Options
…in the works for… bikes, tricycles, kayaks, scooters, skis,
Do I have to ‘join something’ when I want to buy or rent in Groundswell Cohousing?

We warmly welcome all interested visitors who are exploring the idea of living with us.  As a new ‘explorer’, you will be offered  assistance, as you experience our community to see if it may be a good fit for you.  There is no formal organization separate from the strata to ‘join’, but because we offer so much more than just a new house to live in, we want you to have a full picture of the deeper richness of community life that we enjoy here.
As part of the stages of your exploration, and after you’ve had a tour or two, we ask that you attend a business meeting, a community dinner or social gathering, and a work party.  You may also be invited by residents to join other impromptu or planned activities including —-  coffee/tea/beer on someone’s front porch,  a yoga session, a playtime for children, feeding the chickens, tasting freshly-pulled carrots,  etc…
After you have attended the three formal events of a business meeting, dinner and work party and met many of our residents, you will be invited to to meet with a group of villagers in a comfortable conversation “explorations meeting’  that allows both you and the village both to go deeper into specific questions relevant to you, about the ‘living here’ aspect of village life.
As a prospective buyer, you will also be invited to talk with our finance team about your specific purchasing ideas.
When it is clear to both you and the village, that you make a good fit, then you will be invited to ‘join’ by buying or renting in the village.
How can I garden and/or farm at the ecovillage?

The 20 acre farm component of the village in the ALR is managed by a Farm Team.  Presently, most of the bigger sections of land are leased to farmers, who grow and sell market vegetables and fruit.  At times, there are opportunities to work or volunteer with some of these farmers and help with their seasonal farmstand and very often, to buy their produce.
Some villagers currently lease smaller areas for projects like blueberries, ducks, chickens, orchard, food forest, and vegetable plots.
As well, there is a Groundswell community garden, with plots available to villagers.
Many of the homes in the Groundswell cohousing part have small areas of adjacent garden for residents to plan, plant and maintain.
Also there are common areas of landscaping looking for willing gardeners to enjoy.
How much does it cost to live at the village?

** we make official financial documents available to serious prospective new villagers as part of our joining process

In our village, we have the regular costs you'd associate with owning and living in a strata-run community.
Plus, we receive many additional advantages and savings  from our shared village life. Eg… An easy ability to make arrangements with neighbours for sharing childcare,  cars, equipment,  guest rooms at holiday time, etc
Additionally, when the common house is completed, we will benefit economically from the many efficiencies that it offers- optional shared meals, laundry, guest facilities, children’s playroom, teen, music and craft rooms, storage.
New Home purchase -  only two units left as of January 2015!
The new home purchase price is comprised of the land and construction costs . (The BC Property Transfer tax  is applied at the time of purchase).
Because the village was its own development company, there has been no profit component included.  The home purchase amount also covers each unit’s share of the building costs for our extensive  community facilities ( Commonhouse, wetland waste system, parking, landscape etc).  You own and are responsible for the interior of your home; the strata owns and is responsible for the exterior.
Resales homes
As in other stratas, already occupied homes in the village are sold privately by their owners, not by the strata group.  The listing price is at the discretion of the seller,  and reflects  both the value of the home, plus a share in the value of the community facilities.
Property tax
The City of Chilliwack appraises your home and bills you directly for your property tax.  Home owners’ and seniors’ discounts apply.  Because our homes are on the same title with working farmland, we have particularly low taxes.
Strata fees
Fees cover: exterior house maintenance, insurance, water, common facility maintenance, garbage etc
Each home pays its share, based on a formula that takes into account its assessed value, and its size and number of residents.
We have a volunteer Maintenance Team that takes on tasks like mowing and snow removal amongst others,  which result in lower than usual strata fees.
Utilities
Hydro- each unit has its own meter- we benefit from upgraded energy efficiencies
Village wide LAN is available for every home
Water, garbage, waste water - covered by strata fees
Gas- not all homes have gas hookup, units are not individually metered, costs are shared by those with gas hook-up based on an agreed formula
What’s so special about the ecovillage’s waste water treatment system?

We’re so glad you asked… we’re that proud!
The flush itself is an ordinary enough event.  But what happens to the flow after that, is totally leading edge awesome !  First, it’s treated efficiently in a series of tanks, with aeration and ultra violet light, to be clean to Chilliwack standards.  But we didn’t stop there, no siree.  The water is then piped out to the back pasture to laze about in a specially constructed wetland marsh, before it goes into our salmon bearing stream.
It all looks like reedy duck ponds with bulrushes and songbirds to me,  but it functions like this…
Constructed wetlands are essentially a horizontal flow, submerged trickling filters built to treat and remove contaminants from water utilizing the same principals and multiple mechanisms as natural wetlands. They are a series of shallow ponds that have a vast surface area comprised of plant material, living and dead, which are heavily colonized by microbial, invertebrate, and vertebrate populations. They purify the water that flows through them including persistent organic pollutants such as DDT, pharmaceuticals, personal care products and endocrine disrupting compounds (hormones).”quoted from WetlandsPacific Corp
‘Eco’ indeed!