The trouble with communes

B.C. utopians’ dream of co-operative living dissolves in nasty court battle

Here’s a question: when you contribute money to create a utopian society in the remote mountains of B.C., are you buying a share of something? Or are you investing in the greater good of the community? A B.C. judge had to grapple with that question after the denizens of a 220-hectare commune in the East Kootenays wound up in court, having launched their society “to support the concept of humanity as one family.” Alas, the founding members of the community differed over how to do that; some demanded that the $2.5-million property be sold so they could recoup their money. With no written agreement among the founding members to go by, the judge only partly obliged them, saying they could get some but not all of their investments back. The amounts depended on their contributions. A former optometrst St. Jean, Que., gets $324,000 of his original $408,000, but a Toronto man who claimed money based solely on work he’d performed at the site got nothing. All in all, a clear case of “idealist beware.”

Vancouver Sun