A $ 12 million co-housing project in Nova Scotia that has been in the works for a decade is one step closer to completion after breaking ground on Saturday.

Approximately 30 people gathered on the Pearl Street site in Bridgewater, NS for the event.

Treehouse Village is expected to be completed by fall 2022 and will include 30 private apartments, a community center and community facilities on a 15-acre property. It claims to be the first housing estate in Canada’s Atlantic Ocean.

The project was started a decade ago by Cate and Leon de Vreede when they discovered there were no housing developments in Nova Scotia or the region.

“So we figured if we were going to live in a shared apartment and stay in Nova Scotia, we’d have to try and make that happen,” said Cate de Vreede.

By co-housing, de Vreede understands that private apartments with shared use are located on a property.

To commemorate the start of construction, the youngest members of the Treehouse Village are planting a peach tree together. (Shirley Robb)

The Treehouse Village project, like most similar projects in Canada, is legally classified as a condominium, but other legal models can be used for co-housing, de Vreede said.

She said that the core values ​​of Treehouse Village are “easy living on earth” and living together as neighbors in homes that are comfortable and safe.

The houses in the community are passive house certified and therefore have a high level of energy efficiency.

De Vreede said the heating bills for each home should be around $ 100 annually.

To minimize the impact on the area’s ecology, de Vreede said that most of the development will be grouped on five acres at one end of the site and the remaining ten acres will remain forested.

The price range of the units under development is between $ 300,000 and $ 500,000. Only six of the 30 houses are still available and they are all at the upper end of the price range.

Treehouse Village will include multi-unit buildings, a shared house, and a workshop. (Tree house village)

Invested members include people from all over Nova Scotia and Canada, and even the United Kingdom.

According to de Vreede, the cost of the units is on par with other new builds in the area, and any increase in premiums due to the energy efficiency of the units will be offset by the lower energy costs.

De Vreede said the fact that the development includes shared facilities like guest rooms and play areas means many buyers simply don’t need the larger units.

“Most people buy rather modest houses because we set up guest rooms in our community house. So people don’t need an extra bedroom for company, ”she said.

“We can share some of these things. And it’s an alternative to these consumption patterns that we see are really unsustainable.”

Member of the Treehouse Village team that organized the landmark event in Bridgewater, NS on Saturday. From left: Teona Bjork, Allyson Rowley, Becky Hogue, Meg Beliveau, Kathy Horton. (Shirley Robb)

De Vreede said she hopes Treehouse Village will help the co-housing concept gain momentum in Nova Scotia.

“It’s about the choice,” she said.

“Co-housing actually attracts introverts disproportionately, which is contrary to what many people might think, because there is such a clear demarcation between private space and communal space.”