Wolf Willow co-housing offers alternative for Saskatoon seniors

CBC News, April 14, 2016 - As the oldest of the baby boomers turn 70, CBC looks at the changes ahead as this group enters its golden years. This series asks if we are ready for the challenges ahead.

Wolf Willow may look like an ordinary condominium building in Saskatoon's Riversdale neighbourhood but the development offers co-housing for older adults.

"[It's] a community of people who have chosen to live together and age in place and support one another as those very natural processes evolve," explained Margo Day, during a visit by Saskatoon Morning.

ay was among the original group who hatched the idea of creating Wolf Willow back in 2008.

After recruiting like-minded people, they pooled their resources to recruit an architect and a builder to construct the development which opened its doors in 2012.

Designed for co-housing

Wolf Willow is designed with older adults and co-housing in mind, with many shared areas intended to foster community.

While there is an emphasis on socializing, Eileen Makenzie, another Wolf Willow resident, said there is plenty of privacy as well.

"If you're an introverted person and you want to go and stay in your apartment, you can do that. You can be as private or as public as you want," said Makenzie.

"But the thing is, if you stay in your apartment too long, then you're going to have someone knocking on the door saying 'Are you okay?' and that has to be okay with the person too."

About options

Louise Clarke made the decision to make the move Wolf Willow from her house after her partner became enamoured with the idea of co-housing. Clarke originally wasn't originally thinking about moving, but quickly warmed up to the idea.

"Moving is a lot of hard work and I wouldn't want to leave that until I was too old and decrepit and didn't have any choices any more," said Clarke.

"I think that's what a lot of us like about this idea of co-housing for older adults, is that we do have some control."

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