Cutting the cake in celebration of Abbotsford Co-op Housing’s 50th anniversary are original residents from the first phase of the Marshall Road development. From left are Jean Knelsen, and Earl and Micki Ward.

Abbotsford Co-op Housing Association celebrates 50 years

Housing complex was first of its kind in the community

The Abbotsford Co-op Housing Association held a 50th anniversary celebration on July 20.

The event at the complex on Marshall Road included a barbecue and games such as the potato sack race, croquet and the three-legged race.

The idea of a co-op was first introduced by Mr. L. Lloyd, and his daughter and family were one of the first to arrive.

In 1968, Wendell Taylor, manager of the Abbotsford Credit Union, was concerned that so many of its members were having trouble finding affordable homes to buy.

Many were former prairie residents, and the price of homes in Abbotsford made ownership out of reach for many of them.

At the time, there were no townhomes in the area, no co-ops in B.C. and very few in Canada.

The co-op’s board of directors consisted of some Abbotsford Credit Union employees and interested future residents.

A 30-unit development was proposed that included two-bedroom units with a basement and three- and four-bedroom units without basements.

A parcel of land – a sand pit – at 32855 Marshall Road was selected as the site for the development.

The final proposal for the first phase was to build 30 townhouses with a mixture of two-, three- and four-bedroom units, all with basements.

The sample cost of a three-bedroom home with a basement, carport, fridge, stove, washer and dryer was $14,000.

The second phase was to include an additional 24 townhouses.

The first two phases were built in 1971 and ’72, followed by the third phase from 1972 to ’74, and the fourth and final phase in 1976.

Those occupying the first phase included the Knelsens, the Sharpens, two Ward families, the Kellers and Mrs. Gautier.

Harvey Ellis was the first manager, and his office was in his basement. He worked full-time at Matsqui Institution and spent hours on the co-op business in the evenings.

There are now 106 units – 30 for family housing in phase 1, 24 for subsidized seniors in phase 2, 30 for subsidized seniors in phase 3, and 22 for 55 years and older in phase 4.

Some of the first residents still live there, and some of the offspring of the first residents have moved back in with their own families.

They initially purchased the homes, but that changed over the years, and they now buy a share in their unit.

RELATED: B.C. co-ops relieved with Ottawa’s housing strategy

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