I enjoy pretty much everything there is that has to do with the outdoors. Some of my most peaceful moments have been while walking through the forest, sitting on a beach, or boating (minus the loud engine). Accordingly I have a great respect for nature and enjoy learning about the plants and wildlife therein. My plan is to continue that learning process and hopefully enhance it by sharing what I learn. I intend for this blog to serve many purposes, but in the immediate future it will be a place for me, and hopefully others, to share ideas about reducing our individual impact on this planet, protecting wild spaces, and in general just to comment on the things we enjoy most in the great outdoors. I welcome all opinions as otherwise you cannot consider every aspect of a subject. However, I would ask that every opinion be expressed in a respectful way and considered with an open mind. Often there is no single right answer. Thanks.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Save Mary Lake: Plan B

February 28, the extended deadline for coming up with approximately $1,000,000 to save Mary Lake, has come and gone.  Unfortunately the campaign was not successful and the property is now on the market.  At first glance it would appear that the fight is over, but the organizers of this campaign are not through yet.  The website is still taking donations, and in the meantime there is an effort underway to create a cohousing project on 10 acres of the 107 acre site. For a little background these links are to my previous posts about the Save Mary Lake campaign: Mary Lake and Odds & Sods

I will go into more of the details I learned about cohousing in a different post, but for the purpose of this one I would like to talk about how it applies to Mary Lake.  I attended a presentation about cohousing at St. Ann's Auditorium on March 12, which featured a lecture by Chris ScottHanson, author of The Cohousing Handbook: Building a Place for Community.  After his lecture one of the organizers of the event spoke about the general plans for a cohousing project on the Mary Lake property.

Keeping in mind that all design plans are created and finalized by the cohousing group here are some of the initial ideas for this project.  Ten acres in the northeast corner of the property would be set aside for development.  Five of those acres would be set aside for the cluster of 24 living units and one common house.  Like most cohousing developments the design would be pedestrian friendly with all parking taking place away from the homes.  The remaining 97 acres would be set aside as a park and the cohousing group would work together with the Greater Victoria Green Belt Society to protect the land.  Other than the obvious benefit of living near a 97 acre park, the part that interests me is the ideas presented for sustainable building.

The goal is for this to be a net zero project.  This ideal can be acheived by having onsite energy production such as solar and wind power, by taking advantage of significant energy savings made possible by shared walls, efficient heating methods, efficient appliances, etc., and by the lifestyle choices made by residents.  For a great example of an existing sustainable building project you should check out the Eco-Sense website.  Possible construction materials for the Mary Lake project include cob, straw bale, or rammed earth with a focus on non toxic building materials inside and out.  Water conservation would be acheived by such things as water catchment, reusing grey water, composting toilets and low flow showerheads.  I would love to be a fly on the wall in one of the design meetings to hear about the plans for energy efficient appliances and lighting, the incorporation of natural lighting via skylights and solar tubes, planning for a community garden, and landscaping with native plants.

I came home from the presentation feeling extremely energized and hopeful that Plan B will be a success.  My poor husband had to listen to me go on and on about energy efficient this and environmentally friendly that.  We are not in a place at this time to be a part of this cohousing group, but I understand that as of last Saturday there were over 50 responses to the inital information sent out.  The group has certainly done their research, including contacting Canada Revenue Agency to see if a portion of the down payment for the land could be considered tax deductible given that it is being used to buy a park.  I was unable to attend the tour of the property that took place on Sunday, March 13th, but hopefully I will get to enjoy a hike through a 97 acre park one day.

For more information about the campaign, or to donate, please visit the Save Mary Lake website.

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