Quayside Village Cohousing — North Vancouver, B.C.
To create a safe, friendly, affordable, accessible and environment-conscious housing that includes residents diverse in age, background and family type.
Related Strategies and Sources
Groups of families and individuals who wish to live in a friendly, affordable and uncommon type of housing community.
Cohousing — also known as collaborative housing — gives a unique opportunity to residents to participate in the design and development of their own homes and communities. With this demanding yet rewarding form of affordable housing, residents determine communal needs and interests, and choose a home design and configuration that meet these requirements.
A group of individuals and families in North Vancouver, British Columbia, designed and constructed a cohousing community, Quayside Village, comprised of 19 units designed for singles, couples and families. According to an agreement reached between Quayside Village and the City of North Vancouver, five units have been designated as affordable housing for low-income families.As such, four of the units were sold at 20 per cent below-market value while one unit is rented at below-market rate. If these units are resold, they must be priced at below-market value.
In recognition of Quayside Village’s affordability program, the City of North Vancouver discounted municipal taxes on floor space in the development’s common area and granted Quayside Village a density bonus of 10 per cent. The bonus enabled the project’s developer — the residents themselves — to pay for two of the structure’s units.
Quayside Village is a cohousing community located in North Vancouver,British Columbia. The project contains 19 residential units: one bachelor suite, six one-bedroom apartments, two one-bedroom apartments with dens, five two-bedroom units, one two-bedroom apartment with a den, and four three-bedroom homes. The development also features retail space on the ground floor, currently occupied by a convenience store. Every residential unit includes a kitchen, bathroom, living room with gas fireplace, and a yard, deck or balcony. Covered outdoor galleries connect all units.
The community features 2,500 square feet of common area, including a common house, third-level deck and reading room, and outdoor pathways. The common house contains a kitchen and dining area, where residents can share meals, and a lounge with central hearth. The common area also features a playroom, washroom, laundry room, craft area, office and guest suite.
The project’s courtyard is based on a child-friendly design and includes hardy native shrubs, berry bushes, vegetable gardens, a water fountain and trellised vines that reach the upper level of the building. The development’s third-level deck includes an enclosed reading room and features a panoramic view of downtown Vancouver.
The project also incorporates several unique environmental features:
CMHC-sponsored installation of Canada’s first multi-family, grey (i.e., non-potable) water recycling system in Canada.
The building was constructed according to rigorous energy efficiency standards set by B.C. Hydro’s Powersmart Program and the B.C. Gas Energy Efficiency Program.
Flooring, doors and stained-glass windows from former on-site buildings were recycled and used in the building’s common areas.
New municipal accessibility guidelines were followed during the design phase — a first in North Vancouver.
Residents of Quayside Village include a diverse group of two-parent and single-parent families, couples and singles. Most residents are professionals, while some are retired and others are people with special needs.
How It Works
All Quayside Village residents, including renters and children, are eligible to participate in consensus decision-making regarding all aspects of community living. Residents manage the building and grounds, with any necessary equipment and services purchased using monthly maintenance fees. Cohousing fees are lower than rent charged to residents of traditional multi-resident housing.
Costs such as laundry facilities and gardening tools are shared. But since residents perform most maintenance tasks, costs for repairs and upkeep are reduced. Shared services include carpooling, cooperative childcare, and cooking for communal meals held twice every week.
Since Quayside Village meets many of the City of North Vancouver’s social policy objectives, including affordable housing, mixed-use development, adaptable design and community development, the project received strong support from City Council and staff throughout the development process. In fact, public meetings were held during the early stages of the development process to keep neighbours and others informed of progress and to respond to any concerns.
Six homeowners within the development — legally constituted as Quayside Village Cohousing Ltd. — contributed a total of $1.2 million in equity to purchase the building site. These homeowners received a reduction in the purchase price of their units equal to a pre-determined rate of return.
The City of North Vancouver discounted municipal taxes on floor space in the development’s common area and granted Quayside Village Cohousing Ltd. a density bonus of 10 per cent. The bonus enabled the development company to construct a building that is taller and contains more individual units than permitted under zoning regulations. The development company was able to construct a building slightly above market rate despite the building’s extra amenities.Without the density bonus and the extra units that the bonus permitted, residents would have had to pay substantially more per square foot for their individual units.
In exchange for the density bonus, the development company ensured that diverse housing units were constructed within the building. These units include a two-bedroom, wheelchair-accessible rental unit available to qualified applicants at a below-market rate, and four units that sold for 80 per cent of fair market value to qualified purchasers. The affordable units were constructed at the request of the City of North Vancouver, which wants to introduce a greater mix of housing types in the neighbourhood in an effort to slow gentrification. If these units are resold, they must be priced below market value.
Impact on the Provision of Affordable Housing
The following chart outlines costs related to design and development of Quayside Village.
Capital Cost (in 1997) Amount ($)
Professional Fees 203,750
Management Fees 147,000
Municipal Fees 40,425
Common-house Furnishings 45,938
Property Taxes 7,350
Transfer Taxes 19,400
Costs were reduced in a number of ways. Residential units in Quayside Village are slightly smaller than conventional condominium and townhouse units. For instance, a typical two-bedroom condo is 800 to 900 square feet while two-bedroom units in Quayside Village are 740 to 780 square feet.
Residents acted as the project’s developer by incorporating their own development company: Quayside Village Cohousing Ltd. Incorporation enabled residents to avoid paying development and certain other fees. The building contractor also charged a lower-than-average management fee in exchange for avoiding risks usually associated with new developments.
A 10 per cent density bonus was granted to Quayside Village. The bonus enabled the development to construct an additional two units, which reduced residents’ construction costs per square foot. The City also reduced the tax rate charged on common floor space. In addition, Quayside Village Cohousing Ltd.
received an in-kind donation of $50,000 from VanCity Enterprises in the form of a housing agreement, and CMHC funded the development’s multi-family, grey water recycling system.
Summary of Impact on Housing Affordability
Quayside Village is home to a diverse group of residents and families, with a range of household incomes. To reduce costs for some low-income families, the development company designated five of the cohousing project’s 19 total residences as affordable-housing units. Four of these five units were sold at prices 20 per cent below market rates; a two-bedroom unit in the project rents at $840 per month compared to $1,000 to $1,200 per month for a similar unit in North Vancouver. The remaining 14 units were sold at market value, ranging in price from $164,000 to $260,000.
Purchase and rental of the affordable-housing units were subject to affordability guidelines established by the Provincial Housing Program. Sponsored by B.C. Housing — a provincial crown agency that develops, manages and administers a wide range of subsidized housing options across the province — the Provincial Housing Program helps fund development of new non-profit and co-operative housing for frail seniors, people at risk of homelessness, people with disabilities and low-income families. Under Provincial Housing Program guidelines, low-income households must qualify for these units by meeting gross annual income targets and by indicating their willingness to participate in the cohousing community.
A housing agreement with the City of North Vancouver sets maximum income levels and pricing for the affordable units to maintain their affordability. The City insisted on this agreement in exchange for the density bonus of two units. It also required the development to enter into agreements with potential purchasers to provide the cohousing group the option to purchase the property and right of first refusal if purchasers do not live up to their obligations.
Quayside Village meets many of the City’s social policy objectives, including affordable housing, mixed-use development, adaptable design, and community development.
Suitability for Replication
Generally, the greatest challenge in developing cohousing projects is finding sufficient residents in which to participate. In addition, builders and lenders approach this relatively unknown housing model with caution, lengthening the time required to negotiate the development approval process.
The success of the Quayside Village cohousing project was related to four key factors:
A shared willingness among members of the cohousing project to work together to achieve common goals.
Founding members funded the project by each making equity contributions of between 15 and 20 per cent of total project cost.
Municipal authorities provided concessions to accommodate the extra floor space devoted to common areas. Without tax concessions, the amount of common-area space in cohousing projects would have made it difficult to develop these projects, even at market prices.
The City of North Vancouver granted the project a density bonus to counteract high real-estate prices, making the development economically viable.
Key Players and Contact Persons
The following may be contacted to learn more about specific aspects of cohousing and Quayside Village.
Key Player Role Contact Information
Stacy Pigg A resident of Quayside Village closely involved in project development, particularly the processes of community formation and establishment of common property. Phone: (604) 291-3146
Fax: (604) 291-5799
City of North Vancouver Involved in project development from discussing possible sites with residents to final construction; helped cohousing company navigate through the City’s design and approval processes. 141 West 14th Street
North Vancouver, BC
Phone: (604) 983-7382
Fax: (604) 985-0576
Social Planner City of North Vancouver Served as liaison between the City and the project developer; provided City council, staff and advisory bodies with essential information on the concept of cohousing; helped the project developer meet the City’s new accessibility requirements; promoted relaxation of City bylaws to ensure core elements of the project were realized. 141 West 14th Street
North Vancouver, BC
Phone: (604) 983-7380
Fax: (604) 985-0576
CDC Cohousing Development Consulting Provided development services, including helping to select the project’s professional team, working with City officials in the rezoning process, setting up financial and legal structures, and coordinating project design and construction; provided community-building services, including establishing decision-making structures and protocol, performing communications, and undertaking membership outreach, education and skills development. Phone: (604) 570-0742
Fax: (604) 570-0743
Sources of Further Information
Quayside Village Cohousing – North Vancouver, B.C., Affordable Housing Project of the Month, CMHC,
Download a case study entitled “Planning Cohousing: Creative Communities and the Collaborative Housing Society” at the ACT website: www.actprogram.com
Discussions with Carol McQuarrie and Camilla Amundsen, residents of Quayside Village.