Ridable/walkable communities

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Monday I visited the latest building being constructed by Habitat for Humanity. It is the last of 8 living units being built near the Hwy 33 and Rutland Rd. area. The units are built as duplexes, with about 1500 sq. ft. per unit total on three levels. A very active and dedicated group of local people have worked extremely hard to build these units. The new owners are expected to put up about 500 hours of labour as a “down payment” and then make payments on the mortgage based on their income and a few other things.

Quite a few local businesses and individuals have made large contributions of material and labour and deserve a lot of credit.

I don’t know the full details about how people qualify for ownership but mention the above to give the general picture. You can find many more details about Habitat by doing a search on the net.

A few things that are considered in locating property and building the units are:

– public transit should be close by.

– other services such as groceries, banks and the like should be near.

– as far as possible the buildings are constructed to be efficient (size is a big factor here). Habitat realizes that inexpensive housing should not be cheap. Utility costs will not likely go down in future and this can be a big part of the budget for those who don’t have a big income.

– in the case of this property they built three levels high to get the most use of the property. They have a parking area along the back and paths to each building from both the front and the back. This has reduced the amount of area dedicated to vehicles and increased the room available for building. It has to a small degree put the car back were it belongs – out of the way, taking up the minimum amount of space.

My reason for visiting the building site was to evaluate the feasibility of installing piping or conduit for a future solar hot water installation. Making these building(s) “solar ready” would likely save a lot of work and expense in future years over doing a retrofit. It is almost always more difficult to do an installation once the building is completed, unless preparations are made while it is being built.

The point of mentioning the above is to say that we talk about walkable communities yet few are being built in Kelowna. The Habitat buildings, along with being a great example of the type of building we should see more of, is a great example of a “walkable community”.

John.

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