Atangard Community Project tenants (bottom to top) Lisa Bishop

Atangard Community Project tenants (bottom to top) Lisa Bishop

Former Abbotsford hotel rooms turned into ‘intentional community’

The Atangard Community Project occupies the entire second floor of the building at the corner of Essendene Avenue and West Railway Street.



Levi Binder tends to get the same reaction when he tells people he resides in the Fraser Valley Inn.

They usually get a look of distaste on their face.

Binder, 21, loves the opportunity to inform people about the transformation the facility experienced more than three years ago.

No longer is it a hotel renting rooms to some of the city’s most down-trodden citizens. New owners purchased the rooming facilities, renovated them and turned them into an “intentional community” for students and young professionals aged 19 to 35.

The Atangard Community Project, a registered not-for-profit society, now occupies the entire second floor of the building at the corner of Essendene Avenue and West Railway Street in downtown Abbotsford.

There, residents pay affordable rent – between $375 to $500 per room – in exchange for a communal living situation, including shared chores and group dinners.

Stained carpets have been replaced by dark-hardwood floors. Colourful artwork lines the walls.

Each room has a unique character as determined by the resident’s decorating tastes, and doors to each suite are often left open. Currently, 24 residents occupy 19 single- and double-occupancy rooms.

The lack of privacy is not for everyone, but the openness, and the sense of family it creates, is what draws people to live at Atangard, said Lisa Ottevangers, 22, a resident who is also a member of the project’s board of directors.

“If I need someone to talk to, there’s always someone there. I love the idea of sharing life with people,” she said.

Interested tenants must complete an application form and undergo an interview. The goal is to include like-minded people who believe in the strength of building relationships, as well as environmental and social responsibility.

They must sign a contract, agreeing to certain responsibilities such as cooking dinner for everyone twice a month, helping with the household cleaning, or caring for the community garden.

Many have an artsy side, resulting in impromptu jam sessions or additions to the makeshift art gallery lining the walls.

About 60 per cent of the current residents are students. For example, Binder is studying to be a teacher, while Ottevangers is working towards a career in social work.

Others have jobs. Mark Freeman, 26, is a flight attendant for WestJet, while his wife works at a plant nursery.

They live at the Atangard – named after the hotel that first occupied the space – partly to save money to pay off debt, but mainly because of the atmosphere.

“I live in the same house with all my friends. It’s almost like you’re getting away with something,” Freeman laughs. “My life is in this building, and it is awesome to me.”

Ottevangers acknowledges that there can be the occasional issue over, for instance, dishes left in the sink, but the residents are good at communicating with one another and working out their differences.

The benefits of having a group of people to lean on far outweigh these small issues, Binder said.

“You’re losing personal space towards the betterment of other people,” he said.

Adam Roper, 27, said the Atangard has provided him with something that might otherwise be missing in his life.

“I found myself a home here.

“Over the years, it’s become a family in the true sense,” he said.

Just Posted

Dancers from the Sts’ailes First Nation perform the eagle dance at a welcome banner dedication ceremony on Thursday, June 10. “Ey Swayel” is a Halq̓eméylem term translated as ‘a good day.’ (Adam Louis/Observer)
VIDEO: ‘A good day’ for Agassiz school as Sts’ailes welcome banner is dedicated

Banner hangs above the school’s entrance, welcoming students, staff and visitors

Missing Abbotsford man Adam Hobbs was found deceased on Thursday evening (June 17).
Body of missing Abbotsford man Adam Hobbs found

Hobbs was reported missing Monday after leaving his job site in Langley

UFV athletes were honoured for their strength and perseverance during the pandemic. (UFV photo)
Fraser Valley athletes recognized in year without sports

UFV Cascades athletes honoured for strength shown during the pandemic

Abbotsford council has given permission for Chilliwack to use the JAMES wastewater treatment plant for the disposal of trucked liquid waste until the end of September.
Chilliwack gets exemption to Abbotsford bylaw prohibiting liquid waste from other cities

Process in place until September while new facility under construction in Chilliwack

There were a total of 182 deaths of trumpeter swans at Judson Lake over the past winter, according to the Save the Swans website. The lake has the heaviest lead concentration of any known lake, the website states. (PHOTO: savetheswans.ca)
Abbotsford man starts petition, saying lead shot is killing waterfowl in Judson Lake and beyond

Farmer Kevin Sinclair says local lake is ‘poster child’ for swans’ deaths from lead poisoning

People line up to get their COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination centre, Thursday, June 10, 2021 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Vaccines, low COVID case counts increase Father’s Day hope, but risk is still there

Expert says people will have to do their own risk calculus before popping in on Papa

Police are asking for public assistance in locating Anthony Graham who has been charged with the murders of Kamloops brothers Carlo and Erick Fryer. (RCMP photo)
2 charged, suspect at large in killings of B.C. brothers linked to gang activity: RCMP

Kamloops brothers Erick and Carlo Fryer were found deceased in May on a remote Okanagan road

Albert Health Minister Tyler Shandro and Alberta Premier Jason Kenney unveil an opening sign after speaking about the Open for Summer Plan and next steps in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, in Edmonton, Friday, June 18, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta 1st province in Canada to lift all COVID-19 public health restrictions

70.2% of eligible citizens 12 and older in the province have received a dose of the vaccine

Fraser Health registered nurse Ramn Manan draws a dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine into a syringe at a walk-up vaccination clinic at Bear Creek Park, in Surrey, B.C., on Monday, May 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
‘Honour our fathers’ with COVID-19 vaccine protection, B.C. urges

109 new cases Friday, 75 per cent of 12 and up immunized

(Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress)
Trutch Avenue in Chilliwack to be renamed to remove racist taint

New name to have Indigenous significance as Chilliwack takes new step toward reconciliation

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is seen during a joint news conference following the EU-Canada Summit, in Brussels, Belgium, Tuesday June 15, 2021. Trudeau says Canada is on track now to have 68 million doses delivered by the end of July, which is more than enough to fully vaccinate all 33.2 million Canadians over the age of 12. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine deliveries enough to fully vaccinate all eligible Canadians by end of July

Three in four eligible Canadians now have their first dose, nearly one in five fully vaccinated.

A search is underway for a 75-year-old fisherman who went missing near Port Angeles Thursday evening. (Courtesy of U.S. Coast Guard)
Search continues for angler missing between Port Angeles and Victoria

Canadian, U.S. Coast Guard searching for 75-year-old man reported missing Thursday evening

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam listens to a question during a news conference, in Ottawa, Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant grew in Canada this week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s public health agency reports spike in confirmed cases of Delta variant

More than 2,000 cases of the variant confirmed across all 10 provinces and in one territory

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read