We had a meeting on August 27th, 2016 during a Farm Weekend. In attendance were:
Kris Robinson Staveley
T. Alex Beamish
The goal of this meeting was to get all of us thinking about the issues not to make any decisions. We can revisit any or all of these points at any time.
We agreed that the next meeting would also be on the Saturday morning of Farm Weekend, but that we would make an effort to have breakfast earlier and get the meeting started earlier as well, aiming for 10:30 breakfast and 11:30 meeting.
Surveys had been filled out by most of the attendants, and also by Steve Goodliffe, Jessica Armstrong and Mark Brown.
Survey results and discussion suggested that almost everyone had a preference for either 7-10 years or 10+ years. Most of us seemed to feel that aiming for approximately 10 years would work. Others wanted to push it out closer to 15 years.
However, there was discussion as to whether it was wise to delay until we were all 70 or older, as we might be entering the stage of our lives when we would be unable to put in the work needed to build up our community. It could be a problem if some of us already have limited mobility and need assistance when we start the community.
We agreed to move forward under the assumption that we would be up and running in 10 years, and we can adjust the timing if needed.
On the survey, the large majority of us preferred to be situated in Ontario (10/12), with another province being acceptable (10/12) and outside Canada being preferred by Brenz and Steve, while being acceptable to half and unacceptable to half of the remainder.
Brenz encouraged us to consider Australia, specifically Queensland. Others were interested in exploring Central American locations such as Costa Rica. We would need to look into the logistics of immigration, language, health care, etc. as well as cost. Brenz agreed to look into Queensland. Someone should also volunteer to look at Central American options.
Unsurprisingly, the biggest variation in responses occurred when choosing a location. Preferred locations were split very evenly between rural, small town or small city. The suburb and downtown of a large city were fairly clearly rejected, and almost no one was enthusiastic about the outskirts of a small city. There was some confusion about the definition of a large town and a small city.
Useful information can be found at:
They define large urban centres as greater than 100,000 which includes Toronto, KW, and Kingston (at 120,000). Medium is between 30,000 and 100,000, which includes Peterborough at 80,000 down to Stratford at 30,000. Small urban centres range from 30,000 all the way down to 1,000. On the larger end of that scale are Cobourg at almost 20,000 and Port Hope at 12,000, while significantly lower are Gravenhurst at 6,000 and Lakefield at 3,000.
Upon discussion, most of the interest seemed to be in finding something near the downtown of a small to medium urban centre between about 10,000 and 80,000 people, or in a small town of less than 5000, or a rural location. Someone should investigate possible sites in each of these locations.
The major argument in favour of an urban centre was the ability to walk or scooter to stores, services and events. This would also hold true in a small town, but with less diversity available within walking distance. A rural location was favoured by a number of people; it allows us to have lots of space for outdoor features within our community, but would necessitate driving to almost everything.
So the major question becomes how essential it is to be able to walk instead of drive (or be driven), whether this is affordable, and whether that outweighs the value of a rural location. The secondary question is how far is a reasonable distance to travel from rural and small town locations.
Is there enough diversity of attractions and pool of services and staff within an acceptable distance, or are these locations undesirable because they cannot provide these things within a reasonable commute? To answer this second question, we need to determine what attractions, services and staff are desired.
People were relatively neutral about the size of the community, although at least 10 households was preferred by almost everyone. The preference was for 10-20 households, but no one had strong objections to more. The more households there are the more economical this becomes, although the professional recommendation is to keep it under 25. Since we are nowhere near that number yet, we will proceed under the hope that we get at least 12-15, and if more people choose to join, we will worry about getting too large only if we approach 25.
Budgets ranged widely, with almost half being below $200,000, and an even split between the three remaining options. Since we haven’t established a location yet, it’s difficult to tell what the cost will be, but if we don’t work at keeping the cost fairly low, people will be forced to drop out for financial reasons. This would presumably involve recruiting more households and choosing a location where the cost of land is reasonable.
We agreed to investigate property availability and cost in various sized communities. We will explore some out of country options. We also said we should look into buying an existing building (apartment building, retirement complex, or large home) and renovating.