“There are Relationships and a Camaraderie All throughout the Community”
After 33 years managing a large property that included an acre of fruit trees, Paul and Barbara Blake decided it was time to downsize and started looking at their options away from the orchard.
“We were beginning to think the workload was more than we could cope with,” Paul recalls. “The snow load, spraying trees, climbing ladders…and there were some health issues that were beginning to show up as well.”
After they were left uninspired by new homes in a traditional subdivision, their realtor suggested an adult lifestyle community.
“I knew of them, but I’d never been to one before,” he explains. “After looking at several in the area, we eventually showed up at Garth Trails, which was just being established at the time.”
The couple was shown through the neighbourhood and taken on a tour of townhomes and singles, which caught their eye. Wanting a second look, they were given the keys to the model and told to take all the time they needed.
“I sat there most of the afternoon to decide if I could live there.”
After the experiment concluded successfully, they began to look at lots. He discovered an ideal property at the end of a court that backed on a hydro corridor, had a good amount of space and a fence on one side and lots more space out front.
“Coming from a large property, I wanted the openness. We lucked out finding this.”
They chose to build a bungalow with a loft. Because of the slope of their property, the basement is a walk-out and their main-floor deck is one-story above the ground. He would eventually take the lead in finishing the basement.
Six months later, in December 2007, they moved in and spent the winter settling in to their new home. Come spring, when their neighbouring snowbirds returned and the weather warmed up, they began to see what adult lifestyling was all about.
Barbara, a good cook, is a homebody who makes friends easily. At Garth Trails, there were plenty of neighbours who wanted to get to know them as well.
“I needed to get involved in physical activity and it had been recommended by a doctor to get near a pool, so both of us got involved in aquafit, ” says Paul, who acknowledged the 14,000-square-foot clubhouse to be a big attraction and a key selling point. “There’s also a bocce league with 44 teams and we both got involved in that as well.”
Quite literally getting back to his roots, he was soon attracted to gardening projects. Paul took on the task of keeping the lots of many nearby neighbours free of weeds until the lawns were put in. He also managed the walking trail that bordered three sides of his property, convincing the condo board to replace the overgrown corridor on the other side of the trail with grass.
“I’m probably a bit of a nut,” he laughs. “But I just couldn’t stand the weeds. So, I keep it nice and tidy. It became one of my big projects for seven years.”
Like his neighbours, Paul is committed to doing his share to keep the community beautiful , functional and affordable.
“There’s a chance for everyone to make a contribution,” Paul adds. “It’s not dictated, but we are responsible for our own piece of property and the surrounding shared property and the clubhouse. If we want to keep our condo fees down, we share the work.”
After a call for volunteers went out across the community shortly after the Blakes moved in, Paul was given the job of cleaning up the large flowerbed behind the clubhouse that was overgrown with bulrushes and other weeds. The project was right in Paul’s wheelhouse, and he and another volunteer got to work, discovering a single rose bush that spoke to the original intention of the garden.
At Paul’s suggestion, a new drainage system was installed prior to a fresh planting, and the blooms are now back on track.
“There has been lots of interest in the rose garden,” Paul says with satisfaction. “It has developed into a group of five volunteers who do it now.”
Quite pleased with that initial decision to move to Garth Trails, Paul says it should have been made even sooner.
“There are relationships and a camaraderie all throughout the community,” he reflects. “Not everyone does everything, but everyone is involved in something.”
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