This blog will be about how City Villages came to be, the evolution of the philosophy behind City Villages and then how City Villages does in implementation. I retired from Public Works Government Services Canada in the fall of 2013. As part of my work on sustainability for PWGSC I found out that as we age we come less and less interested in change. This becomes particularly pronounced after we turn 70 years old. It includes moving from our current residence into something more suitable to aging. I also found out that over 60 percent of people over 60 years old (I am over 60 years old) live in a single family type residence such as a single family home (bungalow or multi storey), row-house or semidetached. Most of these homes are in our inner city suburbs. Roughly 32% of us live in an apartment style building (condo or rent) and 8% live in nursing homes or seniors residences. You can image that the age demographic in the latter is probably well over 70 years old.
As a consequence I decided that I wanted to move out of my single family home into a more suitable residence for aging as soon as possible. I looked around at my options and finding none that suited Sylvia's and my interest designed our own building. This resulted in the construction of a triplex in Sandy Hill at 331 Osgoode Street that has many of the features I think I will need as I age. Each unit spans one floor. The one bedroom at grade has access to the rear yard and a front porch deck. The two bedroom on the second floor has access to a 180 sqft patio. The one bedroom that we occupy on the third floor has access to a 220 sqft patio. The building has an elevator and is designed to near passive house standards. The finishes are designed to be low maintenance and the super insulation and mechanical equipment have provided us with very low operating costs. Even in winter our gas bill that includes hot water and heating is in the range of $140 monthly. If you want to read the blog on the construction of 331 Osgoode please feel free to visit http://neighbourhoods-for-us.blogspot.ca/
City Villages came to be because I felt others may want to "retire" in the same way. Over the winter I have explored that various building design options that the zoning bylaws and Ontario Building Code might allow. Much to my surprise, I am able to significantly increase the unit density in our low density (non apartment) residential areas without exceeding the massing that is characteristic of these neighbourhoods. In the next posts I will explain how I came across these solutions and what it can mean to the affordability of housing in our inner city suburbs for not only older people but also young first time home buyers.