Three Generations Under One Cohousing Roof


Prairie Spruce is a multigenerational cohousing community.  This usually means that the community of residents as a whole consists of children, adults and seniors. At Prairie Spruce, multigenerational cohousing takes on a somewhat unique flavour, albeit common within cohousing communities: we have different generations of the same family moving into their own private condo units within the community. Roger will be living there as well as his parents Dave and Lill. Murray is moving in, along with his sister Lois and mother, Loraine.

My family is the only one that will have three generations living in Prairie Spruce. Henning, my husband, and I will be moving in with our son, Erik. Henning’s parents, Eva and Knud, will be moving in also. Before you think I am just the best daughter-in-law in the world, you should know three things. First, I am very lucky that I get along very well with my in-laws. They are very nice people. Second, they will be living on the first floor and we will be living on the second floor. Third, they will be looking after my dog part time as he likes to be outside in the summer and they just happen to have a terrace. We are all looking forward to the benefits of living separately within the same condo; living apart, together.

The three Mortensen generations spent some time last Monday morning working together at the Information Centre, roto-tilling the ground in preparation for planting potatoes and zucchini. We’re looking forward to sharing the fruits (vegetables?) of our labour with the community, neighbours and our extended cohousing family.


Design Q&A from Beta Sigma Phi

On Wednesday April 1st, 2015, we were invited to give a cohousing presentation to the women of the Regina Beta Sigma Phi Chapter.  Joanne and I were greeted and warmly welcomed by Vivian and Pat.  The presentation was well received by the group, and after the presentation Vivian and Pat presented us with beautiful yellow roses.  This made it our favourite group presentation to date!

A number of insightful questions were asked by the group and we felt inspired to answer these in greater depth via the blog. We’ve found that if one person is asking the question out loud, there’s at least another 10 that are also curious about the answer. We’ll be addressing a number of frequently asked questions over the coming weeks but decided to start with those related to the overall building design:

  • Will the building be made of wood or cement?
  • What walls were built to fire code?

The short answer to these is that the whole building is being built to code and will be wood-frame construction. But we felt that our architect Chris Kailing at Pattison MGM, could offer a more detailed explanation. Here’s what Chris had to say:

The 2010 National Building Code of Canada requires a 1 hour fire separation between the parkade and the upper floors, between the individual units and between the units and corridors. At the main level floor this is accomplished with a concrete slab. In the upper levels this is accomplished in the floors with the use of Gypcrete topping slabs and the use of fire rated drywall on the ceiling. At the unit demising and corridor walls this is accomplished with fire rated drywall. The exterior walls also have fire rated drywall from the interior and the exterior cladding that has been specified includes brick, stucco, and cement board (Hardie Board), which are all fire resistant materials.

Certain doors throughout the building must meet a specific fire rating as well. These include the unit entry doors and fire exit doors and doors to mechanical rooms. These will be solid core doors with a 45 minute fire rating.

Fire resistant ratings and assemblies (walls, floors, etc.) are quantified through a set of elaborate tests that have to do with temperature rise, flame spread, eventual failure of the assembly, etc. In a nut shell though, a one hour rated
assembly (wall, floors, roofs, ceilings) provide protection from catastrophic failure of that assembly for the designated time identified thus allowing adequate time for building inhabitants to exit to safety.

In addition to the required fire ratings the building has a fire sprinkler system which is designed to suppress fires at the location they start before they spread.

As future owners and residents of units at Prairie Spruce Commons, we’ve taken care to ensure that the design of our building will meet our needs for a very long time. If you have any other questions about the design of the building, we can share with you the short form design specifications for the building. Just swing by the Information Centre this weekend – we’d be glad to chat.

Stay tuned and watch for future blog posts with more answers to great questions we’ve received.


How We Define Community

If you google Regina developers or home holders, many nice websites come up. Most contain the word “community” such as “building better communities” or “coherent communities.” As a cohouser, I was curious what other websites had to say on the subject of community. I looked at four or five websites and as far as I could tell, their community was all about the physical space – tree lined streets, bike paths, and parks. There are some nice places in Regina.

But I think community is much more than that. I think the community is about people. Have you ever had a crappy job but stayed longer than you should have because the people you worked with were great? How about a good job that you quit because you couldn’t stand the some of the people you worked with? People are the most important factor in community.

At Prairie Spruce Commons, we are building our community right now. Not the physical building, but the relationships that will make living in the same building easy and rewarding. We are spending time together, getting to know one another. We have had BBQs in the park, house concerts, games nights, and many, many potlucks and community meals. (We have amazing cooks at Prairie Spruce.) I am getting to know my future neighbors. I know who likes dogs and who has a cat. I know who can teach me about art and who I can talk to when I’m upset. I know who likes to garden and who is most likely to have chocolate. I know who wants to learn to make perogies and who will prevent me from cutting off my fingers with a chop saw.

As a group, we have been working on policy: pets (yes, two), smoking (nope, not anywhere on the property), parking (yes, one covered spot). As a group, we have designed and refined the plans for Prairie Spruce Commons. As a group, we have worked through many issues and are still a community. Everyone has their say and everyone is listened to. Sometimes it takes the group a while to reach consensus, but the decisions made that way are always better than what we started with.

Oh yeah, about the physical community space. We’ve got a great building, with a great courtyard, in a great neighbourhood. We are even across the road from a 2300 acre park. I think we got the developer definition of “community” covered too. 🙂


Global News Regina Drops In

Easter brought two special visitors to the Information Centre on Sunday.  Neither of the visitors was the Easter bunny with a wagon full of chocolate but we could not have been happier to meet Sarah and Tayrn from Global News – Regina.IMG_0052-300x225

Their producer noticed Prairie Spruce Commons in a tweet, and suggested it for a story. Sarah, Global News Reporter, had certainly done her home work. She had reviewed Prairie Spruce Common’s website and asked our members some insightful questions about cohousing. Tayrn, our Global News Camerawoman, worked the angles and lighting, taking lots of pictures inside and outside the Information Centre.

We were delighted that the two of them spent almost two hours gathering interviews and other shots. They promise the program will be put out sometime this week. If you miss it, the video will be available online at Global News – Regina, and we’ll update this post with the link later this week.


Cohousing Recipes: Vegetarian Taco Filling

This is the first in a four part series of cohousing recipes. As part of Joanne’s role as community meal prepper last week, she wanted to prepare items that reflected the diversity of food values and choices within the community. Being a self-described “meatatarian”, she is somewhat unaccustomed to preparing non-omnivore meals but she wanted to be respectful of her friends’ personal values and dietary requirements. The series is meant to showcase the respect and love we can show one another, simply by caring about what people can, and choose to eat in community.

Joanne says: With a little searching and a lot of luck I found a great vegetarian taco recipe. It is super easy to make. My husband said it reminds him of Mexico. Thank you Taste of Home. I don’t think I’m ready to be a full time vegetarian, but I no longer twitch at the thought of a meal without meat. 🙂

#tacotuesday + challenging myself to eat #vegetarian for the rest of this week = chickpea tacos!
Photo Credit: @aerial_m via Compfight cc

Veggie Taco Filling



  • 8 taco shells
  • 3 cups shredded cabbage
  • 1 cup sliced onion
  • 1 cup julienned sweet red pepper
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 1 can (4 ounces) chopped green chilies
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 medium ripe avocado, peeled and sliced


  1. Heat taco shells according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, saute the cabbage, onion and red pepper in oil for 5 minutes or until crisp-tender. Sprinkle with sugar.
  2. Stir in the beans, salsa, chilies, chili powder, garlic and cumin. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 5 minutes or until heated through. Spoon into taco shells. Garnish with cheese and avocado. Yield: 4 servings.

Information Centre to Open Soon!

December 19, 2014 was another big step forward in bringing our cohousing project to Regina. Before dawn that day, the portable office we will use for our information centre arrived at the site! In about an hour the crew had the portable office unloaded and leveled.Prairie-Spruce-Information-Center-2014-12-19-e1420838338444-400x284

A couple of days after the arrival of the office, several members of our community met at the info centre to drop off furniture with which to warmly furnish the information centre. It was soon arranged to be a welcoming place to come have a tea and chat about the project when we open.

We have been patiently waiting for the power to be hooked up to the information centre so that we can have heat and light for our visitors. We expect this to happen in the next few days. As soon as power is provided, the information centre will be opening on Saturdays and Sundays from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm. You can also request a special appointment by phoning (306)586-1363.

In the meantime and as caring members of the neighbourhood, we have been keeping the sidewalk clear of snow for the entire block in front of the information centre on Badham Boulevard. This will allow our future neighbours in the area to be able to walk on the sidewalk and enjoy the wonderful amenities in the neighbourhood easily and without fear of falling.

We’ll be sure to update our webpage as soon as we officially open. We’re looking forward to chatting with you!


Thirty-Five Pounds of Potatoes, Family and Friends

What can you make from 35 pounds of potatoes, 12 pounds of onions, 8 pounds of bacon and 7 cohousers? – Happiness, community and a lot of perogies!


Prairie-Spruce-Perogies-Assembly-Team-400x284Growing up on a farm outside Yorkton, it was hard not to become Ukrainian by association. When most of the neighbours were Ukrainian, and half the family married Ukrainians, it didn’t take too long to learn how to cook some amazing ethnic dishes.

I have fond memories of making perogies with my mother and grandmother and being amazed at how perfect grandma’s perogies were. They were all the same size and were perfect half moons. The ones I made usually looked like a blob or a skinny chicken. The very best times were getting together with all the neighbour ladies to make perogies for someone’s wedding. There would be 15 or 20 women in the kitchen rolling dough, pinching perogies, cooking perogies and onions. Much advice would be shared with the bride and many stories would be told about married life.

Perogie Murray
Murray cutting dough.

I am looking forward to moving into cohousing and finding my home community again. We had a trial run last Saturday when together with Eva and Knud, Murray and Lois, and Henning, Erik and I we neatly folded and pinched enough perogies to use up the 55 lbs of filling that we had made. Combined with much conversation and laughter we worked together as a well-oiled machine. We broke for lunch and sampled the fresh perogies we had just made, sautéed in cream with onions, and accompanied by Ukrainian garlic sausage. They were fabulous. After lunch we worked for a couple hours more to finish off the second half of the filling. We ended with a cup of tea and the good feeling of a job well done.

We have a process and it has over time morphed and been optimized for a given number of people. As we move into cohousing, this process will be expanded and changed to accommodate greater numbers, but we are sure that the camaraderie and the laughter will always be a part of our little perogies productions.


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.


Prairie Spruce Commons Wants Your Feedback!

Let’s come right out and say it: we’re seeking your help in figuring out your current perceptions regarding Prairie Spruce Commons, cohousing and the importance of community for long term health and happiness. So, we’ve come up with a short survey and we’re asking anyone and everyone to fill it out.

Question mark in EsbjergThe purpose of the survey is to explore the public’s awareness of, and interest in the Prairie Spruce Commons cohousing project. Your feedback will help us understand how you relate and perceive the Prairie Spruce Commons project and community. For example, you may be new to the concept of cohousing and would like to know more. On the other hand, you might already be interested in becoming a member, but cannot afford purchasing a unit. Or then again, you might love the concept of cohousing, but you don’t want to move away from your current house and neighbourhood.

Knowing where people stand on the spectrum of interest is critical to our own understanding of the market and the planning of future community building events. Based on your responses and new ideas, we want to plan events that will reach people in Regina and encourage them to think about the benefits of community life, including the cohousing option. We are also interested in hearing what barriers keep people from becoming members in Prairie Spruce Commons.

The survey will take less than 10 minutes to complete and it is completely anonymous unless you choose to add your name and contact information.

We really value your participation regardless of your interest or knowledge about the project. We would also greatly appreciate if you could help us spread the word about the survey and our project. Please access the survey through this link: and please send the link to anyone who you think would be interested! We hope to receive all responses before December 20. Of course, we are always open to receiving your questions, comments and feedback at anytime via our contact page.

Thanks for your help and participation!


Cat Like

Monty the Cat

I am a bit like a cat: I love to follow the sun, only I usually have a book with me. I imagine my book and I wandering through Prairie Spruce Commons from cozy seating area to cozy seating area, warming in the sun beside the walls of windows that exceed standard building energy requirements (actually meeting LEED Gold certifiable standards).

There is much to learn from cats. I lived with a cat for five years and loved that cat, but I developed allergies to them. I am now working with my naturopath to build my immune system so cats and I can cohabit. I expect this will also help me with my slight allergies to some dogs. I have not needed to do this particular immune strengthening until now – but I want to learn from the dogs and cats who will be my neighbours in Prairie Spruce Commons and this will be a lot easier if I am not wheezing. I already know and like their people who are working together to create both the community and the building of Prairie Spruce Commons. Prairie Spruce Commons will have 27 units and 13 of them are already reserved. This leaves 14 units – perhaps one is calling to you? If you have a cat or dog you might want to check with them as to what they are sensing is in their future.