Atlantic Canada's First Passive House Cohousing Community Celebrates Groundbreaking

On Saturday, August 21, Treehouse Village Ecohousing celebrated a major milestone — the start of construction on our 30-home, $12-million cohousing development project in Bridgewater, Nova Scotia.

Treehouse Village members gathered on the construction site — decorated with shade sails and colourful bunting — to listen to live music, enjoy refreshments from Bridgewater’s own Fancy Pants Café, and meet and mingle with our neighbours, professional team, friends, families, and fans of this innovative housing project.

More than 130 people attended the event including David Mitchell, Mayor of Bridgewater, and Becky Druhan, the newly elected MLA for Lunenburg West.

Co-founders Cate and Leon de Vreede were among the speakers. “We’re brimming with pride today at this accomplishment,” said Cate, who thanked the 23 other households who have come on board with “this little seed of an idea” that she and Leon germinated 11 years ago.

Cate noted that Treehouse Village is now Atlantic Canada’s first cohousing community, as well as Nova Scotia’s largest multi-residential Passive House construction. “And we pulled it off in the middle of a pandemic!” she added to applause.

Leon spoke of his excitement at introducing a new form of housing to the region. “We believe deeply that sustainable, community-oriented housing can exist anywhere,” he said. “With today’s groundbreaking ceremony, we have demonstrated that, yes, it can be done.”

Mayor David Mitchell spoke about the households moving to Bridgewater and joining Treehouse Village, not only from other parts of Nova Scotia, but also from across Canada and even internationally.  “This is the model and template for future communities. So, congratulations to all the families on this exciting next step, and for all those who are new to our region — welcome!”

Bearing Fruit for Generations to Come

A highlight of the event was the planting of the site’s first peach tree by the Treehouse Village children. They also planted rhubarb, raspberries, and yarrow around the sapling.

Treehouse Villager Caitlin Stonham recited an original piece of creative writing she composed to commemorate the planting of a new tree that will bear fruit for generations to come.

At the registration table, guests were given packets of Nova Scotia wildflower seeds, with the inscription “Seed the future, spread the word!”

Gratitude, Celebration, and Stewarding the Land

Other speakers included Murray Tate of Tate Engineering, which is providing project and construction management for the development. Tate gave shout-outs to his co-workers who were in attendance at the event and he also expressed his gratitude for Treehouse members’ commitment to doing the job right. Treehouse Village is being built at cost and is employing dozens of local tradespeople. Building materials are sourced locally where possible.

Treehouse Villager Andrew Harvie acknowledged the many contributions of the design team that includes RHAD Architects, Caddis Collaborative, and Brackish Design Studio. He read a statement that RHAD had sent to Treehouse members: “With your dedication and commitment, you are forging a new example of community development for others to see and to replicate.”

Other Treehouse Villagers played key roles in the formal program: Katherine Harman read an expanded land acknowledgment to honour the Mi’kmaq and to voice our promise to be good stewards and seek means of reconciliation with all whose families have walked this land.

As emcee, Megan Beliveau ensured the proceedings moved smoothly, and she acknowledged the invaluable support of all those on our professional team, as well as all our past and current members.

We Made the News!

Treehouse Village’s special day was featured on the hourly news on CBC Radio on Sunday, August 22 and in an article on the CBC Nova Scotia website.

Cate de Vreede and Jamie Wilson were interviewed in a live radio interview on Mainstreet with Jeff Douglas on Friday afternoon, August 20, and LighthouseNow also covered the event in print and on their website on Thursday, August 12.

Other media pick-up (print, radio, TV, social media) was still in process at the time of writing. We have seeded a new idea and the word is spreading.

Treehouse Village Is 80% Sold!

Six homes remain for sale before the expected completion in fall 2022. Are you curious about sustainable community living at Treehouse Village? Book a virtual viewing and take advantage of our pre-sale pricing, available only until October 31.

*Above photo by Shirley Robb

Author: Allyson Rowley
Categories: News