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I’m moving to Tsawwassen!

Seriously people, Vancouver’s not getting any bigger and we’re already up to our eyeballs in not exactly affordable glass shoe boxes. This is why I was pretty excited to come across Century Group‘s Southlands website.

An “ecologically responsible” development, Southlands is being designed to accommodate several growing demographics; Aging baby boomers who’ve kicked their kids out of the nest and aren’t exactly thrilled with the notion of maintaining an empty 2600 square foot split level on a half-assed pension and a few Freedom 55 RRSPs. Those kids who got kicked out? Well, they drank the kool-aid and want to raise baby Chomsky in a sustainable human scale community, integrating the latest in LEEDS certified building techniques combined with boutique organic agriculture, all without braking the bank and within a 10 minute bike ride from their jobs as bloggers or social media consultants. And most importantly, designers and artists like myself who hate the idea of working out of a converted Gastown warehouse close to some junkies, preferring instead to work out of a converted rural barn close to some cows, a bird sanctuary, Point Roberts (for late night Miami Vice style capers) and the option of being able to buy an electric car as an accessory to the residence, be it a cottage, townhome, apartment, or live-work style loft.

Of course, at the moment, I can’t just plunk down my ducats at the local Century Group office. It seems there’s some pretty serious ongoing controversy surrounding the property formerly known as the Spetifore Lands. Opponents to this latest attempt to develop the 500+acre chunk are using the tried, tested and true axiom, “It’s useable farmland!”. Indeed this is true. The property does contain a single potato farm. Also, there are fears among certain members of the community that the increase in traffic to and from the new 1900 unit development will wreak havoc with the already strained commuter thoroughfares. This is also a valid concern as the current generation of residents relies heavily on archaic “in person” modes of labour and have not yet learned to master the Information Superhighway or knowledge based economies.

Having acknowledged some possible downsides, let’s look at the probable benefits to living in a community designed to be more than simply a bedroom and kitchen 30 kilometers from the office.

Integrated Community Trust Farming: Even with 1900 homes, there’s still a heck of a lot of land left over and by carefully dividing it, every family can have a garden plot in which to grow their own, or be within a stones throw of someone who does. From small scale plots to multi-acre crops, the land used for growing would be operated by the community and held in a trust to ensure that it’s used only to feed and educate people. Say goodbye to the robber barons at Whole Foods and say hello to your own stash of organic goodies!

Choice of Housing: Emphasizing affordability, the proposed Southlands development would have several different housing models to choose from. Stand alone or apartment style, all will be larger than the walk in closets passing for “bachelor suites” downtown.

Awesome Adventuring: A kickass cycling and pedestrian trail system will link Tsawwassen proper with a sweet 75 acre protected forest, Boundary Bay and the surrounding areas, while still providing a solution for those who just want to stay close to home and kick it at the Civic Square, highbrow it at the local Arts and Cultural Centre or get their learn-on at the Kwantlen Centre for Urban Agriculture. Of course, there will be room to park and recharge a cool neighborhood electric vehicle for those feeling lazy and just wanting to whirr around town and cruise the strip on a Friday night.

Ok, so maybe the idea of living at a speed slower than that of light doesn’t appeal to some. Maybe it’s more exciting to watch the crazies in the DTES shuck and jive to the voices in their heads than to actually hear the sounds of nature. Maybe the idea of paying someone else’s insane mortgage on a refurbished loft above a gallery builds character. Maybe it’s cooler to get drunk on five dollar draft at the local dive bar and buy .8 grams of weed off the same guy day in and day out, rather than drinking my own home brew, smoking my own home grown and being able to finally set up that telescope I got for Christmas 2006 to actually see the stars at night.

Maybe not.

To see what it’s all about hit the Southlands website or visit the Post Charette Paper

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