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Township Success Series: To Thrive Together Bloomingdale Community

By: Manon Garde

February 3rd, 2022

In June 2021, the ClimateActionWR collaborative released our community’s long-term strategy and short-term plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Waterloo Region 80% below 2010 levels by 2050, with an interim community goal of a 50% reduction by 2030. ClimateActionWR works collaboratively with local organizations, community members, and all eight Waterloo Region municipalities to transition our community to an equitable, prosperous, resilient, low carbon future and achieve our ‘80by50’ and ‘50by30’ goals. This work is done in accordance with the Paris Agreement and Canada’s pledge to reach net-zero by 2050. Read the TransformWR strategy here.

As we work towards our goals, it is important to also take time to celebrate the great accomplishments that have already been achieved. Throughout the past few years there have been many success stories that deserve to be highlighted. The “Township Success Series” is meant for us to reflect and celebrate these local projects within Waterloo Region’s Townships.

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Photo Credit: To Thrive Together Sustainable Living website:

In these challenging and unprecedented times, it can be  difficult to recognize the positive efforts made by local community members towards environmental preservation. Reports tend to focus more on the tasks that still need to be completed to solve the climate crisis rather than the effective pursuits of individuals and small organizations. It is entirely true that much needs to be accomplished to achieve Canada’s climate goals, but there are many successes that should be celebrated as well. It is for this reason that we would like to draw your attention to an organization that is greatly contributing to Waterloo region’s community climate action goal of an 80% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.

What is To Thrive Together?

To Thrive Together Sustainable Living is a not-for-profit organization founded in 2019 by an impressive team of organizers, specialists, and advisors. While its projects are still in the certification stage, it plans to provide small, model zero carbon multigenerational communities with compact homes suitable for millennials through centennials. The values upon which this organization is built include caring for ourselves, caring for each other, and caring for the Earth. 


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Photo Credit: Jill Simpson, To Thrive Together, 2022  

Their primary focus is not as simple as building environmentally friendly houses, but to also create a multi-generational living space where people of all backgrounds can come together and learn from one another. It is meant to encourage an environment of friendship and mentorship, while simultaneously promoting sustainability and ecological preservation. 

Studies have shown the devastating effects that the “loneliness epidemic” is having on people young and old, and research indicates that loneliness can be as harmful as lifelong smoking and obesity. This intergenerational living community is attempting to tackle this issue head on, as small, tight-knit communities have the potential to promote the physical and mental wellness of its residents by offering neighbourly companionship and assistance. 

The Bloomingdale Pilot Community

Construction on the very first To Thrive Together community project in the hamlet of Bloomington, Ontario, is set to begin this year (2022). In addition to providing a vibrant multigenerational environment to people in the Waterloo Region, this community will be a notable success in terms of sustainability and greenhouse gas reductions. This is expected to provide an effective proof-of-concept for fully functional zero-carbon neighbourhoods and act as a model to be implemented in other communities across Canada. 

This community will be found on nine acres of land North East of Kitchener-Waterloo in the Township of Woolwich. Below is a map indicating the location of this community (top), and the raw plot of land that it will be built on (bottom). The site is located on the Haldimand Tract, which is the traditional land of the Six Nations of the Grand River (The Haudenosaunee Confederacy). It will contain 32 barrier-free townhomes arranged in groups of four connected units, with one unit in each grouping being designated as a ‘family’ home. 

As a “pocket neighbourhood,” the To Thrive Together homes will all face one another, and there will be multiple locations where residents can assemble, such as the Gathering Place, the Learning Centre, and the three community gardens. There are also numerous volunteering opportunities available to anyone who wishes to be involved in sustainability activities including the forest stewardship team, a micro-forest tree planting project, and assistant beekeeping positions. 

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Photo Credit: To Thrive Together Sustainable Living website:

What Makes this Community a Sustainability Success?

1) Energy Systems 

  • Rooftop solar panels provide green electricity to the homes and community buildings, and excess power is supplied to the public power grid. 
  • Geo-exchange and heat-recovery technology provide zero-carbon heating, cooling, and hot water to houses. 

2) Building Materials & Design

  • Superbly well-insulated walls and roofs are constructed with thick, sustainably sourced, Ontarian timber. 
  • Triple-glazed windows (three panes of glass) provide an extra layer of insulation with a low-emissivity coating designed to effectively reflect the Sun’s heat energy without limiting the visible light passing through. 
  • Homes are built on a thick layer of concrete to offer thermal storage for further efficiency in the heating system. 
  • Wastewater is pre-treated with a biofilter system, allowing for reduced energy use and a smaller carbon footprint. 
  • Parking lots and sidewalks are constructed using recycled plastic bags rather than concrete. 

3) Natural Features

  • 65,000 ft2 of nearby forests, planted trees, wildflower meadows, and other vegetative features all capture and store atmospheric carbon. 
  • Community gardens provide food for residents and are available to all. 
  • In partnership with Preston Honey Hive, a small local business, the community will have two active beehives stationed in the nearby meadow.  

Overall, To Thrive Together is successfully making strides towards equitable, prosperous, and resilient climate action. Many of the required transformative changes needed to achieve ClimateActionWR’s long-term goals will be implemented in their model zero-carbon communities, such as eliminating fossil fuel use and greenhouse gas emissions, reducing waste, and encouraging the use of electric vehicles. This project has clearly been designed to maximize its contribution to local emissions reductions and inspire widespread sustainability. Fortunately, there will be  similar communities to follow! Bloomingdale is the organization’s pilot project, but the larger objective is to construct a total of ten communities across Canada. 

This organization is currently taking names of those who wish to purchase a home in the Bloomingdale Pilot Community. For further information about this incredible sustainable living organization, please visit the To Thrive Together website, YouTube channel, Facebook group, or subscribe to their newsletter

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