Groups of people intent on creating co-housing, affordable and sustainable housing in the Capital Region in recent decades have often failed due to the cost of land – and the difficulty of securing suitable development sites without having “deep pockets”. One such intrepid group started meeting in the fall of 2012 with the intention of establishing an urban ecovillage in Victoria. Three representatives attended a workshop on housing land trusts at the University of Victoria in January 2013, hosted by the Canadian Centre for Community Research and Renewal and the Co-operative Housing Federation of BC.
Using a community land trust to steward real estate for housing emerged as a brilliant solution to this continuing, deepening challenge. In BC we have known land trusts as a powerful tool for conserving
land. The inspiration of highly successful examples from the US the UK and elsewhere has inspired usto put this tool to work in service to developing land – and holding it as affordable and sustainable housing in perpetuity.
In 2013 members of the Cascadia Ecovillage founders group hosted a series of 5 public Village Building sessions at Fairfield Community Centre’s Garry Oak Room – to help generate community readiness for creation of sustainable, affordable housing communities in the Capital Region. These facilitated dialogues, documented on video thanks to pro bono services by Persona Video and Conversation Works, brought together the donated expertise of featured resource people and the creativity of diverse participants including representatives of local and regional government, key organizations, and interested community members:
- January 30th – Creating a Housing Trust, with Mike Lewis and Michelle Colussi [Links to videos from the session]
- March 21st – Strategizing to Attract Land and Capital, with Gene Miller, Linda Ross & William Ross
- April 4th– Developing Co-ops and Cohousing, with Marty Frost, Joy Emmanuel, Margaret Critchlow and Bill McKechnie
- May 2nd – Designing Living Buildings, with Franc D’Ambrosio, Ann Baird and Gord Baird
- June 6th – Conserving Water and Using “Waste”, with Bryce Scott, Ann Baird and Gord Baird
Public meetings to form Legacy Housing Land Trust in the fall of 2013 generated a group of volunteers mandated to develop a constitution and bylaws. That group worked hard through 2013-14 to design an organization that would build on successful housing trusts elsewhere while also responding to the unique context of the Capital Region. With the contribution of pro bono legal services by Dustin Marnell of Horne Coupar, the Incorporation Committee created a constitution and bylaws that would allow for Legacy to become a charitable society.
On February 16th, 2015 Legacy hosted a public Launch and Ideas Jam at The Dock co-working space. Founding directors stepped up, and signed the paperwork to incorporate. In 2016 Legacy applied for charitable status, and held a first Annual General meeting on September 19th @ 50 Songhees Road.