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Land is purchased, plans in motion for Port Williams co-housing development

Emergency department doctors and partners Brian McLeod and Lois Bowden will soon develop concept designs for their co-housing development in Port Williams. They’ve recently purchased the land, and have investors already interested in the project.
Emergency department doctors and partners Brian McLeod and Lois Bowden will soon develop concept designs for their co-housing development in Port Williams. They’ve recently purchased the land, and have investors already interested in the project. - Sara Ericsson

Designs to be completed within next six months as couple spearheading project secure investment

PORT WILLIAMS – A local co-housing movement is gaining traction after the couple spearheading it have bought the land and begun securing investors.

Bruce McLeod and Lois Bowden, both emergency department doctors at the Valley Regional Hospital, are moving forward with their co-housing development plan for Port Williams.

The couple began consulting with interested parties in spring 2017, and have since purchased 27 acres in Port Williams, with a portion to be used for this project, which stresses the importance of community and how it relates to healthy living – especially for seniors.

“It’s a huge determinant of health. You die sooner, and you get sick sooner, if you are socially isolated. And it’s very easy to be socially isolated even with a crowd around you,” said McLeod.

“So this will help fight that.”

The concept remains the same – individual units built either around or attached to a 3,000 square foot shared main building – and focus on creating a social community of free-thinkers wanting to live together.

The couple has partnered with a major investor in Halifax, fellow doctor Ken Rockwood, who, as a nationally acclaimed geriatrician, is extremely interested in the project, which was pitched as a senior-living development.

But the couple now anticipate people investing in units long before actually needing them.

“Being for all ages would mean people would be exposed to inter-generational community, which benefits everyone,” said Bowden.

“I don’t want it to sound elitist, but it would work if you’re like-minded. You don’t have to be highly educated, but you do need people that are curious and willing to be part of the group.”

The land in Port Williams has been chosen due to its semi-urban context – raw enough to maintain affordability, yet developed enough to hold much promise, according to the couple.

The couple plans to start developing concept designs within six months, and will then begin negotiations with the Kings municipality. They hope to break ground in late 2020, or early 2021.

The estimated cost for each unit is projected at $300,000, which includes use of the common house and the land.

It’s a development that is gaining traction – McLeod receives emails every week from interested parties – but one McLeod and Bowden know isn’t for everyone.

“You get the money, you get the land, you get the group, you get engagement – and then all of a sudden it just takes off,” said Bowden.

“It’s certainly not for everyone, and that’s ok – it’s a certain kind of person a community like this appeals to,” said McLeod.

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