The Sunshine Coast is noted for its many sprawling homes on large rural properties. In 2015, while just over 46 per cent of the dwellings in B.C. were detached single family homes, 80 per cent of Sunshine Coast dwellings were houses.
But that picture is changing. While a big house on an acreage is still a dream for many Canadians, others have different priorities.
“There’s a huge inventory of single family homes, but a lot of empty nesters want to stay in the community and don’t really have a way to do that,” said Tim Ankenmen of Ankenman Marchand Architects. He is working on a design for a new multi-family development on a five-acre site in Gibsons with a focus on one level convenient living with lots of amenities.
“If you create communal functioning spaces, it’s a real way for people to come together and bring back the single family neighbourhood into a multi-family project,” said Ankenmen. The design for 464 Eaglecrest incorporates features such as communal gardens, a shared workshop, and an outdoor kitchen with a harvest table.
A similar philosophy is evident with Rockwood Ocean Stories by Spani Developments, a planned complex of over 200 units adjacent to downtown Sechelt. Rockwood will have a range of housing, from fully independent one and two-bedroom condominiums to supportive living suites, and residents will share amenities such as a spa, library, coffee shop, lounge, and fitness centre.
Downtown Sechelt is rapidly transitioning from almost entirely single family homes to a much higher density. The 104-unit Watermark condo development, completed in 2013, will soon be joined by a number of multi-family developments which will allow residents to enjoy ocean views while living right next to shops and services.
Wesbrooke by the Sea is a proposed 124-unit seniors complex of independent and assisted living suites currently planned for West Sechelt. And RTC Properties envisions a waterfront complex of 48 condominium units at Shorncliffe Avenue and Highway 101.
Another thing on people’s minds when they look for a home these days is energy efficiency, according to Pete Wieler of Space Buildings. “People are educating themselves,” said Wieler. “I find clients are more and more knowledgeable about specifically what they’re after, such as passive homes.”
Wieler’s company specializes in off grid construction. Long before rainwater harvesting was on most people’s radar, Space Buildings was constructing homes with rainwater collection and solar energy because of their remote location on islands such as Gambier, Keats and Paisley. The company uses that experience to build smarter homes in serviced areas, as well.
Energy efficiency is also to be found at the Parkland subdivision in Upper Gibsons, serviced by the Town’s geothermal energy utility. Parkland has built out its first two phases of compact homes and duplexes, and is moving on to a 26-lot Phase 3.
Another small footprint development nearby is The Gardens, a cluster of semi-attached duplexes built by Click Modular Homes. Click’s contemporary-looking, super efficient designs make good starter homes for families or singles. The compact Phase I units of The Gardens sold out, so Click is adding a new phase of two-storey, 1350 square foot units.
Click’s homes are a new twist on an old staple of the Sunshine Coast–manufactured homes–which have long been a popular option for people on fixed incomes, especially seniors. Most mobile home parks were developed decades ago, but soaring property values have sparked renewed interest.
Big Maples Park in Davis Bay is proposing an expansion, and in Elphinstone, a new subdivision is planned with 16 bare land strata lots and 64 mobile home pads on an eleven hectare parcel backing onto Chaster Creek ravine.
Meanwhile, in older neighbourhoods, Gibsons is encouraging home owners to build laneway and garden suites, which provide rental housing inventory while helping families to pay their mortgage.
Across the Sunshine Coast, a wider choice of housing options will help support a diversity of residents of all ages.
– Donna McMahon