From our time at booths and from guests at meetings, these are common questions we encounter. If you would like more information about something not covered below, please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- When did ACE Society start?
The initial group started meeting in the summer of 2017, ACE Society incorporated December 10th 2017.
- Is ACES a registered society?
ACE Society is a registered British Columbia Society. We are registered under the name “AFFORDABLE COMMUNITY ENVIRONMENT (ACE) SOCIETY”.
Once we are farther along in our plans, we will form a separate not-for-profit development corporation. This would then be the entity through which we purchase the land, arrange for construction loan financing and develop the land to create The Shire Project. The recommendation from our lawyer is to do this just before we decide to buy land. All members/purchasers would then contribute to this development corporation and receive shares in return.
ACES, the society, would continue to operate in the background towards achieving its vision of creating similar communities in other areas. The first project would become the template.
- How many members, subscribers so far?
We are currently at 6 Member families and 16 Subscriber families.
- Are we screening members?
There is a requirement that the potential members and subscribers attend at least two of our meetings. This allows us to get to know you and for you to learn more about us. If we feel that we have a good fit we will invite to you become a member.
Financial screening, while not occurring up front, should be expected later during the project. When the project’s financing is being reviewed, the collective financial health of the purchasers are reviewed by the financial institution in order to receive approval for the construction loan financing. Members’/purchasers’ individual financial health will be information strictly limited on a need to know basis.
- Will there be a maximum number of members and Subscribers?
Members: The maximum number will be equal to the number of units to be sold in the land we purchase (approximately 100 lots). However, we believe 18 – 25 Members is a reasonable number required to share the load (tasks) required to move the project forward. We will form committees to handle Membership, Marketing, Fundraising, Development/Design, and Financial/Legal. There could also be more committees formed in the future, to handle tasks not already on the list. You will become the decision makers in how the community is designed and operates.
Subscribers: Unlimited number. Subscribers may be part of the Shire Project, future projects or just interested in supporting our concept and vision.
- What is the approximate budget per person?
Our initial ask for members/purchasers is $1000 (seed money) and is separate from the share requirements of the not-for-profit development stage of the project. As is common with groups that manage their own builds, this value may rise as pre-development expenses such as preliminary land surveys and architectural plans are needed.
- What is the funded money used for?
ACES will use funds generated by member fees to finance and evaluate the feasibility of such a community, and related matters. ACE Society’s day-to-day operation will be funded through subscriber fees ($50 / year). Startup, or seed costs, so far have included marketing costs such as web site hosting and brochures, legal consultations, necessary insurance, and member attendance at some paid conferences such as the Canadian Cohousing conference and the BC Small Housing Summit.
We will fund raise to help cover the ACE Society’s costs in the future, independent from The Shire Project and its development corporation.
If and when ACES decides that the project is feasible and that enough members are interested in continuing with the project, ACES will create a not-for-profit development corporation to purchase and develop land for “The Shire”.
At this next stage in the development, members from ACES will be asked to participate more significantly in the running of the development corporation. Different aspects of the development, including the purchase of land, promotion, finances, technical matters, zoning concerns, legal matters, as well as many other matters, will need to be dealt with.
- What will the cost of the development be?
The cost of land and development is not currently known although preliminary estimates show that we can place people into our community for less than the cost of a typical development, in part because we will be the development corporation and therefore we will be saving the profit a typical developer normally makes. The land will be subdivided into small lots (2000sqft or less) and members will have first rights to purchasing those lots. The lot purchase price will help to cover the cost of the land purchase, development costs, and construction of amenities.
The Shire would consist of approximately 100 lots (homes), divided into three neighborhoods. Based on the decisions of the future neighbors, neighborhoods could be cohousing based, or pocket neighborhood (hamlet) based. Both models incorporate better community bonds through the design of the neighborhood, and community buildings.
The cost of the individual lots will be agreed on by the members as part of the design process and feasibility studies. Home design standards will also be agreed upon by the members. The final price will not be known with precision until move-in, although we will have an approximate value from the feasibility studies. When the construction loan is finalized, the development corporation will transition the ownership of final units to members with traditional mortgages.
- What kind of homes are you building? Tiny homes on wheels or small homes on foundations?
We hope to have both options. We plan to have three neighborhoods: two of fixed small homes, and – as long as it is approved by the city we reside in – a neighborhood of tiny homes on wheels.
- What kind of amenities would you have in the community?
The mission is to build a complete community that would include residential, commercial and agricultural (live, work, play) components. The commercial could include tiny house construction, general store, home based businesses, and temporary accommodations. The agricultural could be community gardens, home based food gardens, greenhouses, pocket farms, etc. There would also be a community center (with industrial kitchen, craft room, play room, meeting rooms, etc), neighborhood houses and a community sized work shop.
- Do you have any builders identified?
We want to offer people two options:
- They build themselves or bring in their own builder as long as the unit meets city permits and architectural guidelines for the community.
- They purchase a building from a pre-approved design we provide.
We have not identified builders to create these homes yet as we are too early in our process to tender a proposal for bidding. We have made some contacts with builders through various events. We would like to have the option of having people participate in the building of their own homes if it is feasible.
We see building together as a way to bond our community and a way to make things more affordable. However, critical building tasks, such as electrical, plumbing, etc, would be done by qualified trades’ persons.
- Do you have any Strata rules? Or any Fees?
We will organize ourselves legally as a bare land strata. Lots would be individually owned. All shared services, amenities and community facilities would be under strata rules. This is similar to a regular strata you would find in a townhouse or condo complex. Before moving in, the community members will create the rules and guidelines under which the community will function. Feedback from other cohousing groups recommends that community rules and guidelines be separate from the strata documentation except where it makes sense to legally be in the strata.
Besides a traditional strata fee, there could be nominal fees to help pay for group meals (as it is a common tradition to share some meals as a way to bond with your neighbors in cohousing) and other community functions. We may also consider fees to help pay for shared projects to help support the long-term sustainability, affordability and resilience of the community, where those projects were not incorporated into the initial build. Eg. Solar energy improvements or car sharing.
It should be noted that due to community participation in maintenance of common buildings and amenities, it can be possible to keep the strata fees lower than would normally be expected.
- Any land identified so far?
As an exercise to define our requirements (ten acres, or more, of useable land), we have visited and analyzed four different pieces of land. We will continue to monitor the land market for good/appropriate opportunities.
- Where would we build the community?
We would like to build in the municipality of Maple Ridge or Mission, although we are open to looking at different areas and municipalities.
- Have you talked to the city of Maple Ridge/Mission about Zoning requirements?
We have had a preliminary talk with the Mayor of Mission. We have discussed our project with a city planner at the City of Burnaby and will arrange a subsequent meeting. There have been some early discussions with Maple Ridge Community Planning.
- Has the Society talked to any banks for funding to buy land?
We have had early talks with VanCity which is normally the bank of choice for most cohousing developments in the Greater Vancouver area. Our Society banks with VanCity.