Perhaps we can begin by having you briefly explain what Ecoville.to is all about.
Ecoville.to is the response to some obvious trends we all have noticed in society recently. One is the skyrocketing prices for small disheveled homes in the city going for three quarters of a million dollars, which is clearly unfortunate for young families trying to start their lives together. Another trend that people are growing quite cognizant of is that respect for the environment can translate into profitability and is actually good for business. Folks want to be environmentally aware and adopt a near-zero carbon footprint where they reside, but they simply don’t know how best to achieve this. And thirdly, it almost goes without saying that technology is developing at such a rapid pace that it is now empowering those who yearn to connect and unite with others throughout the global village. The concept ‘think globally, act locally’ rings true for us here at Ecoville.to.
So all these trends taken into account led to the establishment of Ecoville.to which is the first public project developed by Ecoville Global. What we are trying to do is offer a reasonably-priced housing option with a sizable land component to it, basically a sustainably-designed home with a near-zero footprint. Style and aesthetics will be important to us in addition to the environmental impact. Another attractive and unique component of the project will be the fostering of a community comprised of such eco-dwellings and inhabited by folks who share a passion for these meaningful ideals.
We envision a two hundred acre parcel of land consisting of approximately a hundred eco-dwellings (with at least four design choices) on properties ranging in size from one to four acres.
Our project is certainly a model for the world to demonstrate how people can live in a truly eco-friendly neighbourhood where everything will be different, from the eco-grade asphalt laid on the roads to charging stations for electric cars, solar energy production and permaculture gardening. Another interesting component of Ecoville.to will be the common media and entertainment area which we are calling the ‘thought lounge’, where environmental/tech/green tech/community and world thought leaders will be able to share and generate ideas.
What will stand out is not just the project itself but the ideas that spring forth and how it is modeled afterward.
What will the eco-dwellings look like?
A lot of people are contacting us already and trying, through sales inquiries, to pin us down on design specs, wanting to know which models they can choose from and how to order them. At this time, we are simply directing people to our website where they can get a sense of the look and feel of what we are going after.
Having said that, there is one really cool company we are dealing with in terms of distributorship rights and sales and it’s called Ecocapsule, based in Slovakia. They are offering an aluminum egg-shaped capsule complete with solar paneling and wind turbine with two back-up batteries which they claim can charge your car when you’re home. They even have a properly insulated version which can handle our tough Canadian winters. It can also collect snow, dew and rainwater and purifies them for drinking. It looks phenomenal and is a truly exciting innovation. As an added bonus, the shipping container it arrives in is retrofitted for use as either a work space or living room.
There will of course be more traditional home designs available if someone is less adventurous, but I guarantee you, it will be one of the most remarkable neighbourhoods you will ever visit.
How is the project coming along? At what stage are you at with it right now?
The project is advancing at warp speed. We are a high-tech company with experts delegated to several clusters of tasks that require action. We have someone reaching out to the municipalities to work on zoning issues we may encounter. Obviously, we are approaching all the eco-dwelling designers and suppliers both globally and locally. We are working on a financial structure to handle pre-sales, funding grants, and other forms of community support. We are establishing an advisory board to sharpen the vision. Sales, marketing and social media outreach is already underway. We are speaking and getting a lot of interest from construction and infrastructure partners, even solar farm companies are calling us. In the background, we are developing our branding message through our website and through offline communications.
Who are you looking to work with?
Well, we don’t even want to select a plot of land until we have a municipality on board who will be willing to co-operate with us. Municipal co-operation is critical to establishing Ecoville.to. As the vision takes shape, the contribution from the community itself will grow in importance and develop into its own working model that may end up as a template for other groups looking to replicate it.
Right now, the sky’s the limit. Without a doubt, we want the project to be community-based on several different fronts. Literally, we are reaching out to those with land for sale, municipal contacts, eco-dwelling designers and builders, a solar partner, construction partners, add-on eco-friendly products and services, media ambassadors, funding sources, those interested in participating in our senior advisory panel. We are approaching all of them and many of them have been approaching us as well. As you can imagine, we have been generating a lot of buzz. So in a sense, this is more of a ‘pull’ project than it is a ‘push’ project.
In your opinion, why has it taken so long for a project like this to have even been conceived of in the first place?
Well, one of the reasons I suspect is the fact that this is all a very big idea in the sense that it takes substantial funding, a tremendous amount of community support, and patience with respect to achieving proper zoning. In addition, until only recently, there weren’t as many eco-friendly builders as there are these days. The technology has come a long way in such a short time, enabling a true streamlining of eco-dwelling options. We’re bringing everything together, whether it’s well-drilling to supply your own water, rainwater harvesting, grey water recycling or generating your own power from wind and solar. We’d also love to collaborate with bigger players like Elon Musk and be one of the first in Canada to feature a Tesla electric car charging station within the neighbourhood.
As you continue to speak with municipalities surrounding the Greater Toronto Area where would the ideal location for this eco-village be, in your opinion?
Our idea to start off, before we even begin to think about expanding to other locations, is to have the first Ecoville situated close to an urban centre, in this case Toronto, simply for ease and convenience when it comes to marketing and sales, and to attract those individuals from the city who are looking to transition out of that lifestyle more comfortably. Toronto is ripe for such an opportunity.
We are considering a number of different locations in and around Ancaster near Hamilton, and north of Oshawa. We are also narrowing in on some places between Toronto and Guelph. And one area that we find especially attractive is the Tottenham area, north of the city on Highway 400. Depending on traffic, you could get there within a half hour from Toronto, with commuter train access nearby. The landscape is quite exceptional there, not too expensive, and we think the municipality will be sympathetic to zoning.
Where can people go to learn more about this project and receive updates on its development?
It is really important that we get the word out and that our vision is shared with the public-at-large. We can be reached very easily through our website at www.ecoville.to. We have our own social media presence on facebook and twitter. We have even developed an online catalogue of eco-dwelling options through the flipboard platform.
What is the long-range vision for Ecoville Global once the first project is complete and up and running?
This is really a visionary project, and without a doubt, it will expand outward either by our own doing or the work of others in the market. We are a collaborative group based on ideas not business models. There has been talk about building rapidly up into an IPO, raising some money that way, and then carrying on with other projects in other parts of the country, in tandem with other partners.
All start-ups, of course, are concerned with equity, but I can tell you that our team is a vision-motivated team, and we just want to get this accomplished. A number of us want to live on the property. As the founder of this enterprise, however, equity is the least of my concerns right now. It’s going to be a fun project, a profitable project, and knowing that, I just want to build the vision and grow it into something meaningful for everyone involved.