by Deborah Rogers –
What do a hair salon, spin studio, dog groomer and Airbnb have in common? They are all businesses you’ll find behind the doors of an ordinary residential street. Except, it doesn’t seem that ordinary.
Paying a visit to Robin and Liz Richardson – one of the first couples to move into the new development of Eaglehurst – was enlightening. Late afternoon and the street had kids out riding bikes, and neighbours chatting in their driveways. The development (which was controversial and a long time in the planning) appealed to the couple, who were ready to downsize from a home in Dean Park. They’ve enjoyed introducing themselves to new neighbours as the other houses were filled, and witnessing a community building around them.
Of concern for any new build on the Peninsula is who it’s serving. Will retirees from other parts of Canada buy homes that could otherwise house local families? Where can our workforce afford to live? An informal survey of the residents has discovered a wide range of occupations, with workers greatly outnumbering the retired. Only a small number had moved from out of province, and there are already 44 children living in the community.
Another surprise from the survey was the number of home-based businesses. Liz herself works as a hairstylist. Having a suitable salon space in her new home was one of the requirements before moving there. It’s proved to be a great success in many ways, for the couple personally who love the friendly neighbourhood, and for Liz’s work. I met with several of the other entrepreneurs who are making Eaglehurst not just home, but work too.
Raina and Shaye Draper have just opened a boutique spin studio called Garage Cycle. They had originally chosen Eaglehurst because it was a “perfect fit” for their family, meeting the criteria of being close to the city, but still surrounded by green space. They didn’t plan to start a home-based business but, Raina says “a number of our neighbours had started small businesses from their homes which provided the inspiration and support.” They found the process to apply for a Business License was straightforward and the couple is clearly impressed with the level of support they’ve received from the community.
Further down the road there is an art studio, and a home that is soon to open a dog grooming service. I also met with Mel Nowak who tells me that part of her plan when looking for a home was to find somewhere with garage space that could be converted into a gym. “I had this vision of a garage gym because I wanted to show that fitness doesn’t have to be fancy to be effective.” She has a simple setup with barbells, free weights, benches and a rack. Soon after moving in, Empowerment Fitness was born. Mel thinks that part of her success has been the location: “I think the development of Eaglehurst has helped grow my business; I don’t know that I would necessarily be able to have something like this if we lived in downtown Victoria.”
Of course not everyone wants to run a business from their home, but it is exciting to know that home-spun creativity and entrepreneurship can be accomodated and rewarded in our community. When I ask Mel whether it’s something she would recommend to others her answer is enthusiastic: “Go for it! It’s easy to talk yourself out of things that make you uncomfortable, but very satisfying watching your small idea turn into a reality.”
Workforce housing, affordable housing, high density developments: these have been hot topics on the Saanich Peninsula for many years. How exciting then, to see a vibrant new community taking shape in North Saanich!
Photo by Amanda Cribdon