Ecovillage living is rapidly expanding worldwide as an alternative to conventionally designed small towns or neighbourhood districts within larger city regions. The Global Ecovillage Network (GEN) and United Nations Habitat Initiative link thousands of environmentally and socially sustainable villages in both urban and rural fringe areas. Many of these ecovillages are located in attractive natural or cultural settings with exciting community lifestyles and visitor attractions. Ecovillages often include tourism accommodations combined with various visitor services, workshop courses and hands­-on activities like gardening, cooking and natural building. Some of the most popular ecovillage communities have expanded over entire regions, such as the international city of Auroville in India, Findhorn Community in Scotland and the Federation of Damanhur in Italy.

ORIGINAL AVALON ECOVILLAGE INITIATIVE

In 2004, the Avalon Alliance Inc. formed a subsidiary, the Avalon Ecovillage Development Corp., to undertake the creation of a broadly appealing ecovillage in Kelowna, BC. The 20.6 acre ecovillage was intended to be the first stage development project of our larger World Centre plans for a model campus village and sustainability district. The World Centre vision aspires to protect the outstanding natural features and ecosystems, cultural heritage and recreational attractions of the S.E. Kelowna canyon lands, while acting as a consciousness-raising catalyst for green community development, holistic learning, global peace and fellowship.

For more than a decade, Avalon’s founder Laurel Zaseybida undertook extensive research and created the sustainable planning concepts, building and landscape designs, financial projections, and educational marketing strategies, with the assistance of a dedicated team of associated consultants, advisors and seed investors.  This continued effort is the basis of Avalon's ecovillage development model and certification process that can assist other community developers and agencies as well. 


Some of the environmental planning approaches & community design features that could be found in an Avalon-certified ecovillage include: 

  • Ground-source, solar & other new energy technologies combined with the best green building practices in the world.
  • Integrated, regenerative design that considers buildings, ecologically engineered utilities, organic agriculture & natural green space as a whole system.
  • Indoor modular construction of the building envelope to reduce neighbourhood impacts & improve levels of energy efficiency, waste reduction, trades coordination & working conditions.
  • Custom building finishing & beautiful artisan work using natural, non-toxic, recycled & reclaimed materials.
  • Resident health & energetic harmony also addressed by optimal daylighting, EMF/ noise protection & feng shui design.
  • Sensitive site preparation & restoration to achieve slope & soil protection & net increases in biodiversity & wildlife habitat.
  • Biodome greenhouse, rooftop gardens & potable water revitalization to grow organic energized food all year round.
  • Solar aquatic sewage treatment that reclaims water & nutrients in a greenhouse system. 
  • Development density options ranging from homesteads to cluster pods to urban compact.
  • Pedestrian orientation & bicycle networks.

Some of the unique socio-economic & cultural features of our ecovillage model include: 

  • Child-friendly inclusive residential living that provides for different ages, backgrounds, family sizes & incomes.
  • Fee simple, strata or cooperative ownership options, with a balance of private living space & multi-purpose common areas.
  • Green tech, ethical commerce, recreational & wellness-oriented enterprises for job creation.
  • Accommodations & service for visitors.
  • Educational discovery centre & studio for project marketing & community programs. 
  • Artistically creative, engaged residents.
  • Interfaith fellowship & natural sanctuaries for peace & contemplation.

Project financial objectives:

  • A “triple bottom line” ethical investment, with a plan to achieve positive financial, environmental and socio-economic outcomes.
  • Professional financial management and business planning, with cost-efficient phased approaches to green construction, landscaping and facility operations.

The original Avalon Ecovillage initiative gained Agricultural Land Reserve exclusions, much support from our community and even international interest, but was not able to proceed to City approvals due to issues related to land security and the housing market slowdown of 2008-2009. We were also limited at that time in our efforts to find an effective legal investment structure that fully protected the values and integrity of a development that encompassed all aspects of sustainable community living. Some recent legislative improvements have helped Avalon find solutions to these legal/ financial concerns.

Please note that the Avalon Ecovillage plans and location are currently being re-assessed as part of our evolving vision for the larger World Centre project. We are preparing a new planning and development partnership proposal for property owners in the vicinity of Scenic Canyon Regional Park, and welcome community investment and giving inquiries to help us continue this important work.
 
COMPREHENSIVE ECOVILLAGE DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS

While Avalon continues to advance its own World Centre project and other comprehensive development initiatives in Kelowna, we are also committed to sharing our professional knowledge and experience with others who are interested in starting their own ecovillage.  We have recently created an Avalon Sustainable Ventures Corp. to fund multiple projects and offer SHIFT-certified project management and consulting to prospective partners who want to benefit from our leading edge approaches and the planning and design expertise of our team of professionals. Our comprehensive project initiatives are not limited to the Okanagan valley and our team is prepared to travel to assist others worldwide. 

Ecovillage projects can be developer-led or initiated by a citizen landowner or group of future residents in a cohousing type process. Ownership structures can range from private residences in bare land strata communities to cooperative living based in closer collaboration or kinship relations.  

Comprehensive ecovillages may be developed in urban areas as a mixed-use neighbourhood or town centre renewal of existing buildings and infrastructure. We can also prepare a SHIFT Revitalization Plan for the area and encourage our clients to engage our Green Building Retrofit and Paint the Town consulting services to achieve their goals.

Typically, however, ecovillage development opportunities arise at the urban-rural fringe where marginally productive land is available for new projects. In the Okanagan region, and elsewhere in North America, the distinctive landscape character and functionality of the rural fringe is increasingly influenced by conventional subdivisions, gated communities and various types of recreational resorts, which can have many adverse impacts if this growth is not designed and managed sustainably.  

Avalon can help ecovillage development projects adapt to the existing fringe landscape without destroying its regional character, liveability, critical ecosystems and agricultural productivity. We build on Laurel Zaseybida’s pioneering thesis work entitled:  “Sustainability at the Urban-Rural Fringe: A Spatial-Contextual Environmental Planning Process for BC’s Central Okanagan Region” (University of Waterloo, 1994). Our unique landscape assessment process identifies site development constraint and opportunity areas utilizing colour-coded overlay mapping of hazards, natural resources, ecological habitats, energetic zones, areas of social significance and other functions. Our clients then explore exciting new settlement design and sustainable management approaches, and ‘backcast’ implementation steps from the desired future development scenario.

Avalon also applies its sustainable land use concepts and integrated design-build systems to ensure that the development is economically self-reliant, enhances resident health and the environment, and addresses the wholeness of living. We are sensitive to cultural aspects and have a unique immigration-adapted development process.  Our innovative roundtable decision-making methods are used to promote team learning and engage community stakeholders in the planning approvals process.  We are also able to facilitate green educational marketing, manage the highest standards for eco-engineered servicing and building construction, and provide ongoing training for community operations and programming.

Please see related information under Green Buildings and Ecological Utility Systems, Sustainable Farm Support Services as well as Environmental Stewardship and Landscaping.  We also have further details on our systematic certification process for prospective partners interested in establishing a local or global Avalon-certified ecovillage development. Please contact us directly to learn more about ecovillage development trends and our phased SHIFT project modules. We can explore how we can combine our team and support systems with your skills, resources and ecovillage development dreams.