The owner of a one-acre plot on Cordova Ridge is planning a different kind of development, as he aims to build five passive housing units with renewable energy systems on a stratified cul-de-sac off of Walema Avenue.
Many consider passive housing the way of the future though there are only a handful of examples in Greater Victoria to date.
Nino Barbon is eager to change that. His Cordova Ridge vision has a name, the Beespot 1.0 Neighbourhood. It symbolizes the fact five family dwellings can live in a shared area – sharing renewable energy systems and other items. The development is planned for 5197 Del Monte Ave., which, coincidentally, was in the ongoing process of being developed by the heirs of the family who’ve owned the land for more than 65 years.
Barbon, a Lochside Drive resident and business consultant who was part of the family business that sold North Douglas Distributors to Sysco, came across the Del Monte property earlier this year.
“It wasn’t for sale, but it fits the vision, it has the view, it’s perfect,” Barbon said.
The vision started on a March flight to Florida Barbon took with his 22-year-old daughter. Together they mapped five hours of notes and came up with the name. When they got back, Barbon secured the land for about $2 million. It’s still zoned A1, a holdout in a suburb built during the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s.
Barbon’s already talked to his immediate neighbours on Walema Avenue and is branching out to the rest. He’s also tallied up all the concerns that neighbours had about the previous development so he can approach them one at a time.
“This fits the March 20 resolution by Saanich council to move towards 100 per cent renewable energy sources by 2050,” Barbon said.
Each house will be two storeys with a flat roof and a secondary suite, with passive house technology that will reduce power consumption by 90 per cent compared to traditional homes. Solar panels (either Tesla solar roof tiles or photovoltaic) will cover the roof and the homes will tie into the power grid. Rainwater will be captured and stored to water the garden and grey water will be captured to flush the toilets.
The trick to building passive homes so far has been land costs. Passive homes cost about 15 per cent more to build, plus the additional systems, such as geothermal heating to heat the hot water and wind turbines to pick up additional power.
And the idea to include secondary suites isn’t to appease the rental crisis (although it would help). It’s to promote a multi-generational living space.
“Up and down this neighbourhood there are adult siblings with their families living on the same street, this is an extension of that,” Barbon said.
Barbon is hoping council will see the logic in reducing the carbon footprint in such a drastic way. He also hopes that residents who buy into the strata will share a desire to garden on the property and in the boulevard.
“My grandfather always said, Nino, I don’t plant something I can’t eat,” Barbon said.
“Beespot is for my children, and for everyone’s children,” Barbon said. “We have to shift our collective thinking… to minimize our environmental footprint.
In the meantime Barbon is set to renovate and repurpose the 1952-built, two-bedroom Truswell house remaining on the property.
“It was going to cost $35,000 to bring it down and remove it, so the plan is to renovate it,” Barbon said. “When the time comes, I will pay to move it to a new site. It doesn’t make sense to deconstruct a house in a housing crisis.”