PHOTOS AND STORY BY MELODY FALCONER-POUNDER
Bayfield is often referred to as a retirement community but it isn’t a place where the more senior among us simply rest on their laurels. They are vibrant and active citizens that are constantly striving to make Bayfield a better place.
But they don’t do windows. They have neither the time nor the inclination to do such chores.
And if they have a Bayfield Mews address they don’t have to.
“The Bayfield Mews is all about a lifestyle change,” said John Elmslie, president of Bayfield Lifestyle+ Executive. “When people move here they don’t have to worry about things like outside maintenance or if their heating/air conditioning is going to work. Those details are taken care of and this frees people up to do the things they want to do.”
John Elmslie is not just a resident of the Bayfield Mews. He is also president of the Bayfield Lifestyle+ Executive that looks after both projects and operations at this local life lease development.
Jean (standing) and Rachel St. Aubin moved to the Bayfield Mews from Waterloo. They enjoy the freedom the adult lifestyle community affords them to enjoy a rewarding and full retirement.
Located just south of the village, the Bayfield Mews community broke ground in 2007. Currently there are 24 town homes constructed with plans to build 31 more units as well as an activity centre.
Ian (left) and Shirley McAllister have been a part of the Bayfield Mews community since 2008. While the front of the house is maintained by the corporation Shirley employs her own gardening skills in the backyard - a hobby she very much enjoys.
The idea for the Bayfield Mews was conceived about a decade ago when like- minded individuals began noticing that some retirees were leaving the village for larger centers. After some research it was determined these people didn’t really want to leave the area but they could no longer maintain their existing homes and there was nothing in the area to suit their needs. The project was first showcased at the Bayfield Home and Garden show in May of 2005. Construction began in the summer of 2007.
“The creation of the community has done what we hoped it would do, it is keeping people here, 85 per cent of the people that live here are from the village or the greater Bayfield area,” said Elmslie. “The other 15 per cent may or may not have a connection to the area but they believe that this is a great place to retire to.”
The community is designed specifically for active adults over 55. Residents purchase a life interest in their housing unit. Life lease developments are an emerging lifestyle option for today's retiree. The owner of a life lease has the exclusive right to occupy the home selected and to use the common facilities for as long as desired. When an owner wishes to sell the lease, the owner receives the market value less an administrative fee. Today's seniors are able to protect their investment and earn a return similar to the equity growth in their home without the headaches associated with the maintenance of their property.
“The Bayfield Mews is a not for profit; board members are all volunteers and they are critical to the community’s success. The Board or Directors oversee operations and projects. There is no development company taking a chunk of the profits we sell the homes at our cost,” said Elmslie. “With a life lease you have better control over how things will function.”
The neighborhood will be created in two phases – the first phase will see the construction of 39 town homes. Currently, 24 of these homes have been built with 23 of them being owned. The second phase will see another 16 homes built as well as an activity centre.
The community’s infrastructure and activity centre costs are built into the cost of each home.
“We have to pay for the infrastructure first and then we can move along with the building of the activity centre,” said Elmslie.
Despite the lack of an official place to meet the Mews Resident Association functions to enhance the betterment of the community by providing social activities for the neighborhood. They currently hold regular card games, parties and potlucks in rotating homes but eventually they will run activities at the centre.
The Bayfield Mews is located on a 14-acre property, eight of which will be used for the development. The remaining area is forested and walking trails have been established for residents to enjoy.
The Mews has been designed to be as eco-friendly as possible with regards to irrigation and storm water management. At the heart of the community is one of two ponds that are used for irrigation.
“When both the first and second ponds become full of water there is a slow release into the forested area so as not to adversely affect the bush,” Elmslie said.
One of the benefits of purchasing a town home at the Bayfield Mews is the opportunity to personalize a space from the floor plan to the finishes. There are five floor plans to choose from varying in size from 1,170 to 1,620 square feet.
The floor plans have been designed with easy living in mind with no stair or steps – it is a home to enjoy growing older in but people don’t have to be “old” to move in.
“That is a perception we are trying to change. The Bayfield Mews is a 55 plus community but it is not just for older folks. A lot of people in their fifties and sixties are taking early retirement and this is the perfect home base for people who want to travel without being tied down to their home. Here they can walk out the door and not have to worry about things,” said Elmslie.
Meet Jean and Rachel St. Aubin
Jean and Rachel St. Aubin discovered Bayfield a few summers ago when they rented a cottage at Deer Park Lodge. When it came time to find a place to retire fond memories for this village on Ontario’s West Coast drew them back.
The couple is originally from Quebec. They raised their children in the province of Alberta before career choices brought them back to Ontario with work in Toronto being a short commute from life in Waterloo.
“When we retired we knew we wanted to move but we didn’t know where, our roots are in Montreal, but we wound up here,” said Jean.
“We looked everywhere but decided on this place,” said Rachel. “We saw an advertisement for the Bayfield Mews in Feb. of 2009 and decided to come and see it.”
The open bungalow style plan really appealed to the couple.
“Our home in Waterloo was a three story condo. We liked the idea of no stairs, we’re not at the stage in life where stairs are a factor but one day we may well be,” said Jean.
Their children are also very happy that they moved to Bayfield; there are lots of great beaches and golf courses close by for when they come to visit.
The couple’s only real complaint about life at the Bayfield Mews would be just how quiet it is.
“At first it was too quiet, we lived next to a university in Waterloo so we had to get used to the lack of noise,” said Jean.
Quiet maybe, but never boring, the couple has also learned that the community is big on volunteers and their getting involved has been a terrific way to get to meet people.
Meet Ian and Shirley McAllister
Ian and Shirley McAllister ran a beef, hog and cash crop operation outside of Bayfield for a number of years before retiring to a house within the village proper.
But according to Ian, “It wasn’t in our life plan to do the extra work required of a home. I didn’t want to shovel snow, mow the lawn and climb a ladder to clean out the eaves trough or wash the windows. The Bayfield Mews fit our plan.”
The couple moved into their home on Bayfield Mews Lane in the summer of 2008.
“We picked the floor plan size we wanted and did some adjusting to it,” said Shirley. “What is nice about the neighborhood is no two units are the same. They can be changed to suit personal preference.”
Shirley loves the openness of her home. “I’ve fed twenty and had eight people sleep over before,” she said.
She also appreciates the opportunity to still have a garden and flowerbeds at the rear of the home. “I can still get my hands in the dirt,” she said.
To maintain a cohesive look in the community the front gardens are all maintained by the corporation with the grass being cut every Thursday.
“I appreciate the look of a uniform strand of grass,” commented Ian.
Ian is also enjoying the in-floor heating that his home is equipped with. “It improves your attitude in the morning,” he chuckled.
What the couple can both appreciate is the sense of community that they have found at the Bayfield Mews. They have enjoyed attending barbecues, card parties, a Christmas Party as well as a St. Patrick’s Day event.
“There is a wonderful mix of people living here, we all come from different backgrounds and have different ideas and I enjoy that very much,” said Shirley.