Belterra Cohousing

Bowen Island, British Columbia, Canada

  • Last updated: May 18, 2017 (1 week ago)
  • Listing created on: September 29, 2012

Mission Statement

The Belterra Mission Statement: To create and sustain an evolving community that embraces respect for a diverse group of ecologically accountable and socially responsible people.

Community Description

Belterra Cohousing is a multi-generational community with 30 condominium-styled homes in 5 residential buildings on a forested hillside overlooking beautiful Howe Sound and the Coast Mountains of British Columbia. We are located on Bowen Island, just 40 minutes from downtown Vancouver.

As of July 2015, we reached our goal of 30 households and all members have assumed occupancy. Our Common House, Woodworking Shop and Greenhouse are under construction.

Our vision of sustainable island living has captured the imagination of a diverse group of people, from 8-year old Josie (daughter of Carmen and John) to retired UBC professor Paul.

Belterra is a community within a community. Bowen Island has a small-town feel, an interesting history as a vacation spot popular in the early 1900s, as well as numerous cultural events, an active arts council, two commercial centres with cafes, grocery stores, restaurants, fine crafts shops, galleries, and fitness and wellness centres.

Although the island is relatively small, it boasts a 2,200 peak in the centre and numerous hiking trails, beaches, two marinas and a 9-hole golf course.

If you visit the Belterra Cohousing Website, you can learn more about the talents and interests of many of our members under “Who We Are” and find out about our wait list for rentals and homes for sale. The website includes renderings of the buildings that grace our 10 acres with 30 energy-efficient homes

At meetings, we find ourselves laughing a lot and enjoying the process of designing a community that includes community gardens, a 3,300 sf common house, greenhouse, workshop and children’s play areas. We also have fantastic potluck meals, with a range of diets represented. We look forward to expanding our cooking and meal sharing (and growing lots of vegetables) in the coming months.

The homes and other facilities are BuiltGreen to Gold standard and have in-floor radiant heat and water catchment. Each household may have up to “eight legs” for pets – that is two dogs, two cats, or one of each. We have adopted policies that govern smoking, fencing, and parking that were developed to respect both individuals and the group.

We are free to rent out our homes, but are a stable residential community and nearly all “owners” live at Belterra year-round and participate in the process of creating community.

Among us you will find: nurses, wood workers, teachers, musicians, techies, fine artists, therapists, social workers, body workers, doctors, seekers, gardeners, students, environmental consultants, editors, small business owners, builders, a yoga instructor, a financial analyst, a certified ecologist, an RCMP officer, a researcher, a graphic artist, a pharmacist and a librarian. We have young children and retirees, and several ethnic groups are represented.

You can find us on Facebook.


  • Type(s): Cohousing (individual homes within group owned property)
  • Location: Suburban


  • Status: We have land we have developed on
  • Area: 10 acres
  • Current Residence Types: Multi-family homes
  • Current Number of Residences: 30
  • Planned number of residences: 30
  • Housing Provided: Purchase, Rental
  • Land owned by: The entire community membership
  • Additional Comments:

    Belterra is bordered by 40 acres of municipal parkland, community lands, agricultural buffer and forest, some of which is owned by a summer camp.

    Five buildings with a total of 30 units, with seven different floor plans plus gardens, workshop, greenhouse, (planned) and a common house that includes indoor kitchen and outdoor kitchen (planned), two guest bedrooms, lounge with wood burning fireplace, dining or “great” room, children’s playroom and multipurpose activity room.

    The five residential, townhouse-style buildings were finished in stages, between December 2014 and July 2015.

    For more information, please visit the Belterra website:


  • Adult Members: 45
  • Child Members: 7
  • Percent Women: 51-60%
  • Percent Men: 41-49%
  • Percent Transgender: 0%
  • Visitors accepted: Yes
  • Visitor Process:

    With advance notice, we can accomodate visitors for a site tour. In general, we are unable to host outside guests overnight. Occasionally, and with advance notice, we make exceptions for visitors from other cohousing communities.

  • Membership Process:

    We recently sold a 2-bedroom, 2-bath, top floor suite (May 2017). At this time, there are no other suites available, but we keep an outreach list for those who want to be apprised of openings in the future. Please write to us at: [email protected]

  • Open to new Members: No


  • Decision Making: Modified Consensus (everyone agrees, with some exceptions or fallbacks.)
  • Identified Leader: No
  • Leadership Core Group: No
  • Additional Comments:

    We are studying sociocracy and have a very agreeable group. So far, a loosely-structured form of consensus seems to work well.


  • Dues, Fees, or Shared Expenses: No
  • Shared Income: None
  • Required Labor Contribution: Encouraged or suggested
  • Additional Comments:

    Members must qualify for a mortgage or qualify for a “non-market” rate home in the community. At this time, all the “affordable,” non-market housing, have been purchased.
    We have a 2 bedroom, 2 bath top floor suite with fantastic views currently up for sale. Open House is on Saturday, April 22, 2017, after which time offers will be accepted. For more information and a sales brochure, please write to us at: [email protected]

Sustainability Practices

  • Energy sources: Hydro-Electric
  • Planned food produced: Up to 25%
  • Food produced locally: Up to 25%


  • Common Facilities: Common House, Garden(s), Greenhouse(s), Library, Workshop, Outdoor Kitchen, Large Scale Kitchen, Tractor & Farm Equipment, Fire pit, Swingsets & play areas, Internet
  • Internet Available: Yes, both the community and individuals provide it
  • Internet Fast?: Yes, it’s fine.
  • Cell Phone Service: Good for some people.
  • Shared meals: About once a week
  • Dietary Practice: Omnivorous (plants and animals), Organic (no pesticides or synthetic fertilizers), GMO Free (only non-genetically modified organisms), Mostly Vegetarian, Vegan Only (plants only, no animal products) – Please check this only if you are 100% Vegan., Kosher, Gluten-Free
  • Dietary Choice or Restrictions: No – people may eat however they wish.
  • Special Diets OK: Yes
  • Alcohol Use: Yes, used occasionally.
  • Tobacco Use: Yes, used seldomly, or ceremoniously.
  • Additional Diet Comments:

    We have one tobacco smoker who is very conscientoius about where she smokes. We are considering instituting a Bylaw prohibiting members from smoking to prevent a conflict any future owners. There are two areas outside of the building at either end of the property where smoking is permitted. A few people smoke pot privately and we haven’t had any complaints.

  • Common Spiritual Practice(s): Ecumenical (accepts all religions or spiritual practices), Eclectic (integrates multiple religious or spiritual beliefs), Christian, Buddhist, Jewish, Quaker, Unitarian Universalist, Mixed Eastern Philosophy or Practice, Atheist, Agnostic, Humanist
  • Education Style(s): Up to each family or individual
  • Healthcare Options: Up to each family or individual
  • Additional Comments:

    We live in Canada, so basic healthcare is provided by the government to all citizens and permanent residents. A number of members are body workers or yoga teachers, as well as counsellors and outdoors enthusiasts. It’s an active community and our members have varied interests, skills and practices.

Additional Comments

Belterra cohousing is a community within a community. Belterra is a 20-minute ferry ride from West Vancouver (Horseshoe Bay) to the Snug Cove dock. Many people have spotted orca whales and dolphins on the ride across Howe Sound. The ferry runs more than 12 times a day and carries up to 90 vehicles and dozens of foot passengers each way.

Belterra is built into a hillside and many of the units have views of the distant snow-capped montains and vast stretches of forest. Bowen Island is a cohesive, vibrant community with schools, galleries, restaurants, local agriculture, performances, retreat centres, wellness centres, B&B’s, two marinas, a golf course, waterways for kayaking, and hundreds of kilometres of hiking trails. The island attracts educated, nature-loving, creative people from all over the world. The year-round population is about 3,500 which swells in summer to accommodate 6,000 summer residents.

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Community Network or Organization Affiliations

The Fellowship for Intentional Community (FIC), Canadian Cohousing Network


sustainable, green, intentional, children, art, music, healing, garden, collaborate, diversity,