Conditional Membership Reminder

One of the most commonly heard comments in conversations with our supporters, as well as visitors to the Information Centre goes something like this:

“I love the idea and design of Prairie Spruce Commons, I see it in my future but I am not quite ready to join the community.”

Very often, this type of comment is followed by… “When do you think the construction will begin?”

These two common comments/queries are inseparable. The following statement by community member Joanne Mortensen makes the inevitable connection clear: “Construction will begin as soon as you and four other households commit to a home at Prairie Spruce Commons.”

That’s because we have agreed with our developer, Fiorante Homes and Commercial Limited, that construction will begin when 19 of the 27 beautifully designed, self-contained units in Prairie Spruce Commons are spoken for.

Our current community members (formally Equity Members) have each paid a downpayment equivalent of $35,000, have selected the units of our choice, are enjoying the fruits of community, and are working on promoting Prairie Spruce Commons so that others can join our community too. As current members, we want to do everything we possibly can to welcome our future neighbours into our community and to make your membership decision as easy as possible. We want you to say yes to your future in Prairie Spruce Commons!

To that end, we have come up with a lower financial threshold for joining the community, which also increases your certainty and security in the project moving forward. We call this “Conditional Equity Membership”. You can become a Conditional Equity member by making a downpayment of $5,000. Your full downpayment will not be required until 19 units are spoken for and construction is then scheduled to begin. Conditional Equity membership is a low risk way for you to ensure you have a future in Prairie Spruce Commons and Prairie spruce Commons has a future in Regina.

To learn more about Conditional Equity Membership, don’t hesitate to email us or give us a call at (306) 586-1363. To get a better sense of the elegant architectural design and this creative community, consider joining us at our 6th Design Workshop with Pattison MGM Architects on Saturday June 20th. Get in touch and will send you the details.


Prairie Spruce Commons is Sustainably Built

Several participants at our ‘Journey to the Heart of CommunitySustainabilityOpen House last month told us they were drawn to the event because of the words ‘Sustainably Built’ in our advertising in the Leader Post. This got me thinking more about the sustainable features of Prairie Spruce Commons. Sustainability is an economic, social, and environmental concept that involves meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. The following are examples of some of the sustainability features of Prairie Spruce Commons.

Social Sustainability:

  • lots of shared common spaces;
  • respecting needs for private space and time;
  • exceeding sound proofing requirements between floor and between units;
  • perfecting our consensus decision-making skills;
  • widening the circle with Friends of Prairie Spruce and others who are interested in growing community;
  • meeting Universal Design standards to make it safer, easier, and more convenient for everyone; and
  • having fun together in community!

Environmental Sustainability

Economic Sustainability

  • reduction in energy costs because of exceptional energy efficient design of building;
  • reduction in upkeep in maintenance costs due to use of quality materials with longer lifespans;
  • lower required equipment and resource ownership through sharing (e.g. snowblowers);
  • car sharing option reducing maintenance and insurance costs;  and
  • lower food costs through community gardening and meal sharing.

You can clearly see our enthusiasm for sustainability in our Badham Boulevard Video on Vimeo.


What's In Your Toilet?

In most Canadian cities we could drink out of our toilets. Doesn’t sound too appealing, but we could if the toilet bowl had been thoroughly sanitized.  The same water that comes out of our taps is used to flush our toilets. In a world of increasingly scarce fresh water does this make even an ounce of sense?

I remember the first time I was told there is no new water. All the water on Earth is the same water that was here since the earth was formed about 4.6 billion years ago. This seemed impossible to believe. Water is always shape shifting: ice bergs, snow, hail, rain, rivers, lakes, oceans, glaciers, fog, mist, frost, ground water, tap water. But it is always the same water!  The same water has been cycling for 4.6 billion years.  But it is not in the same condition it was even fifty years ago. In Canada at any given time, there are usually 1000 boil water advisories in effect. Safe drinking water is essential to life and we are using it to flush our toilets!

There is an alternative. It is called grey water recycling. Grey water is defined as wastewater generated from sinks, showers and baths, which can be recycled on-site for uses such as toilet flushing, landscape irrigation and constructed wetlands. Grey water often includes discharge from laundry, dishwashers and kitchen sinks.  In July 2012, Bruce Nagy wrote the following in Plumbing and HVAC, The Voice of Canada’s Mechanical Industry.

It is probably wise to be skeptical about the next big thing. But sometimes it is just common sense; like the coming move toward more grey water recycling, especially in cities……… Whichever systems are used, there should be plenty of commercial and residential grey water and rainwater business available to contractors in the coming years. One could even say it’s the next big thing!

The Research and Innovation Centre at the University of Regina uses a grey water recycling system that is part of the research work of Dr. Stephanie Young. With the guidance of Dr. Young, the  design for Prairie Spruce Commons includes plumbing infrastructure for grey water recycling.  We plan to work with the City of Regina to seek approval to be a multi-residence grey water research site.

Our Prairie Spruce Commons Community is excited and eager to be a leader in environmental innovation in Regina. Are you the type of person that is passionate about sustainability issues and wants to be part of the solution? If so, we’re looking for more early adopters to join us on the quest to Green Regina.


Location & Community Identity

A short walk down a red clay road to beautiful white sand beaches, on the doorstep of a National Park, surrounded by three winter skating ponds and cross country ski trails, and it is home. Or at least it was home, my childhood home on the north shore of Prince Edward Island.  I loved it and still do, but as an adult I discovered I had envy of some of the communities further down the shore from home: the French community of Rustico, the Acadian community of Evangeline, the Celtic community of Bothwell. In addition to their stunning natural beauty, they had (and still have) fabulous music cultures, kitchen parties and cèilidhs.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered the answer to my community envy could be found in Regina, Saskatchewan. There is not a white sand beach nearby (at least not one that meets my standards) but on the evening of Wednesday October 22, I had the delight of being in exactly the right location for a kitchen party. That evening. Prairie Spruce Commons hosted their ‘Sharing for the Future’ Concert at The Club on 8th Avenue. It was a wonderful event with lots of Prairie Spruce Commons friends and new-to-me friends sharing food and the pleasure of a `kitchen party` with Glenn Sutter, the River Time Band, B.D. Willoughby, Jim and Thomas Wright, and their musician friends. I love that it was an all ages affair, with many gathered together for fun. 

The old adage “location, location, location” is not only about your physical neighbourhood; it’s also about your cultural and community neighbourhood. Although our address on Badham Boulevard is pretty hard to beat for a location in Regina, I’m excited by the way Prairie Spruce is already building a cultural and community neighbourhood identity. Community events like the Sharing for the Future Concert or the special public screening of the fantastic “The Happy Movie” on November 16th showcase our intent to foster community and culture, while enhancing our “location, location, location” at Prairie Spruce Commons. Hope you can join us.

PS. Special thanks to Malin Hansen for her leadership in putting this event together!


No Woman is an Island

No woman is an island entire of itself; every woman is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less (with thanks to John Donne)

November 2013 we three women; Ruth, Brenda, and Rebekah, realized it was soon going to be time to move from our beautiful home on Rae Street. We were facing another winter and we had out grown our desire to keep our ramp and parking pad clear of snow on a daily basis. We began looking at condo options with underground parking and we were not thrilled by what the future seemed to hold for us. Then we found Prairie Spruce Commons Cohousing.

It was almost impossible to believe: a community of dedicated, fun loving people who had been working for several years to manifest a multigenerational cohousing community in Regina. By January 2014 we were Equity Members and by March, thanks to the genius of Chris Kailing of Pattison MGM, we had a unit (109) that was designed to meet our very particular accessibility needs. 109 is a gorgeous unit in a stunning building full of light and colour and community.

September 1, 2014 Rebekah became suddenly and seriously ill. Since then we have been practically living at the Intensive Care Unit at the Regina General Hospital. In this time that has been so full of worry we have been surrounded by the love and support of our wonderful community which now includes the community of Prairie Spruce Commons. It comforts me to contemplate living into our life in Unit 109, to imagine Rebekah being strong and healthy again, and to dream of her laughter filling the common house.


Waking Up to the Possibilities

It is amazing how much I don’t notice in my surroundings. I have been to Nature’s Best Market hundreds of times but I never realized the smoothie bar utilizes solar power. At the west end of the smoothie bar there is a beautiful wall installation showing the solar input and what it is powering.

Laurie Gillies, co-owner of Nature’s Best and member of Prairie Spruce Commons, provided our community a tour of the installation. The silver-outlets are solely solar powered (the red arrow in the photo is pointing to a solar outlet). The blenders are used for hours each day so utilizing energy from the sun rather than from a coal fire generating plant provides the benefit of a delicious, nutritious smoothie, and leaves the oxygen in the air for us to breathe.

The solar radiation map for Canada makes it obvious that we have an abundance of sun in southern Saskatchewan. At Prairie Spruce we are committing to building and living in a green building that reduces energy consumption through high-efficiency fibreglass frame windows, increasing the insulation value in walls and ceilings, utilizing solar power, and using in-floor heating and cooling. Somehow, getting up close and personal with the solar installation at Nature’s Best has made what we are creating at Prairie Spruce more real to me and even more desirable.

If you want to know more about the energy consumption in your current home, you can click this link to find out the energy demands of many household appliances.



Life Beside a Child

When was the last time you had fun with wooden eggs, felt carrots, and a cloth bag? I love the energy, imagination, and perspective a two-year-old brings to any setting. At the recent Prairie Spruce Solar Power Small Talk, it was my delight to sit beside Nora and explore the opportunities for play with her as my guide. Wooden eggs make a nice strong sound when you crack them on your chair before opening them and pouring them into your pan. Felt watermelons are not messy, and a felt carrot does not require peeling.

It is exciting to anticipate the multi-generational future of Prairie Spruce Commons Cohousing, and prepare for the benefits of all ages playing, working, and living together.

If you are a family looking for a community, we are a community looking for you.


Life Beyond Bigfoot


Prairie Spruce Commons is committed to reducing our environmental footprint. Part of this commitment includes designing our building to use complementary power sources like solar power, but what does this really mean? Thanks to an information session with Ken Compton, local solar and wind energy expert, we are gaining more of an understanding of our options.

Life Beyond Bigfoot : Solar & Net-Metering

It is our intention to build so we are ready for future installation of solar voltaic panels. The panels have a 25 year life expectancy (production > 80%). We intend to produce power under Saskpower’s net-metering program.

Suncatcher Solar provides the following information about solar power output in Saskatchewan:

The amount of electricity you can produce depends on the size of the solar array and the amount of sunshine you receive in your area. For example, a solar power system with a 4.8 kW array (20 solar panels @ 240 Watts each) will produce an average of about 700 kWh per month in central Saskatchewan, Canada.  You can find out how much electricity you need by looking at your current power bills.

Why we will use complementary power sources:

  • Reducing our cost of living: S ask Power has applied for an annual rate increase of 5% for the next two years.
  • When possible, generating power for sale:  The Sask Power Net Metering Program makes this possible.
  • Reducing our CO2 production and elevating our province’s energy status: Saskatchewan generates almost 75% of our electricity from coal fired electric plants and is currently Canada’s worst polluter per capita.

Travel and Cohousing

Travel & cohousing… Do the two go together? From where I’m sitting, on this red rock at the shoreline where the Gulf of St. Lawrence kisses the white sand of Prince Edward Island, cohousing and travel are perfectly matched. 

We are here for a two week vacation with family and friends. Others of the Prairie Spruce community are at home in Regina, hosting information sessions, staffing our booth at the Farmers Market (stop by for a visit), getting the word out about this wonderful new adventure that is taking place in Regina. Others are at their cottage at the lake, one household is traveling in Denmark and one household is traveling and Sweden. In cohousing we share in the play and the work, that’s what a community is about. 

An additional bonus of cohousing is the international community. Membership in a cohousing community allows you to visit other cohousing communities across the globe and book the guest space. Check out the locations of a few cohousing communities around the world:

So, where should we book our next trip?

Brenda (& Ruth)