The homeowners at Sarilia are a shining example of sustainable living. As we grapple with the effects of global warming, our community is embracing energy efficient systems, including the use of solar panels (of which, 20% of Sarilia homeowners have installed), and grey water systems.
We recently chatted with a few of these homeowners, to find out why they’ve incorporated these systems into their homes, and what savings they’ve found.
Part 1 of the series is our Q&A with Ronn Lepage and focuses on solar power. Part 2 will include further Q&As with Sarilia residents, and their experiences with solar and grey water systems.
What were your own personal reasons for installing solar panels when you built your home? We wanted to reduce our impact on the environment and save money.
What kind of savings have you seen as a result? What is the approximate payback period? We have not had to pay for electricity since we installed the system. We generate approximately 7000 kWh per year of energy and we use about 5,000 a year in our home. Our payback period was about 5 years. We are on an older program—SaskPower ‘banks’ our excess production. I have now purchased an Electric Vehicle and will be able to use up the excess.
What year were the panels installed? The panels were installed in June 2013 and SaskPower began accepting our energy in October 2013.
How has solar technology changed since then? I’m not on top of the changes in the industry like I used to be. The productivity of the panels has increased significantly and the cost of panels has dropped. Regulations on installation are more stringent and SaskPower/Government assistance has decreased.
What do you wish more people knew about solar power? Everyone with the capacity to install panels should do it—it is a very good return on investment, it is good for the environment and the self satisfaction of receiving SaskPower bills with zero net energy consumption is a very special feeling.
Do you have any advice for someone considering adding solar panels to their home? Work with a qualified Solar Electric installer. The small extra up-front cost will ensure a safe and reliable system. We got four quotes from different installers, and selected Rock Paper Sun. I am very impressed with the service. Rock Paper Sun installed our system over 10 years ago and they still (at no cost) monitor our system for anything unusual.
This fall, Sarilia’s roads received a marvellous makeover. Green Earth Road Spraying, a Saskatchewan based company, treated our roads with a product that stabilizes the surface and controls the dust. This service was paid for by the RM of Laird.
The roads will require less maintenance in the future, and the previous washboard texture is kaput! The roads are now safer and smoother—it feels like driving on asphalt—and our cars will stay much cleaner, making for fewer trips to the car wash.
Our river trails also received a refresh, thanks to long-time friend-of-Sarilia Dale Rempel! After taking the family dog, Honey, for a stroll down to the river, resident Vaughn Krywicki told us, “Dale did a great job clearing the trails—widening them and creating a new trail where an old one was damaged.”
It really does take a village to keep our village in tip-top shape. Thank you Dale, for your commitment to our much loved river trails.
If you haven’t been down to the trails lately, we encourage you to check them out this weekend!
I decided to plant a perennial flower garden this year, to reduce the amount of maintenance required on my own 1/2 size plot in Sarilia’s community garden. Last summer, we spent a lot of time camping with family, which made it hard to keep my plot in tip-top shape. Hence, why I’m keeping it simple this summer.
The perennials I chose this spring are not only drought resistant, but they thrive in hot, dry weather. I planted Russian sage, iris, peonies, tickseed, sedum, potentilla and oriental lilies. I’ve also lined the walkway with four o’clocks (which are annuals and very showy) and giant marigolds for pest control (they have a strong scent and deter rodents).
My neighbour, Will, has planted a whole plot of sunflowers, which will make for a beautiful garden backdrop this fall. Other gardeners have planted tomatoes of nearly every variety, squash, Spanish onion, carrots, beets, Yukon potatoes, beans, zucchini and cucumbers.
We have one large communal strawberry patch, and some shared garlic and winter onion (which are also perennials). We’re already dreaming up plans for our gardeners’ party to celebrate the harvest this fall. We’ve decided that all the food for our party will be from the garden (salsa, potato salad, zucchini cake, dill pickles, borsht, etc.) Perhaps Will’s beautiful sunflowers will be the centrepiece. — Gwen
Whether you’re seeking panoramic river views, or the privacy of being nestled within a well-treed lot, Sarilia offers three categories of lots to choose from—each with their own unique characteristics and vantage points: River Front, River View, and River Ridge. There’s also one remaining acreage property for sale at Sarilia, the details of which you’ll find below.
Here’s a breakdown of each category, along with corresponding testimonials from Sarilia residents.
Our river front lots offer spectacular, uninterrupted views of the North Saskatchewan River valley—perfect for enjoying sunsets with a glass of wine on your deck. The natural prairie landscape keeps yard maintenance to a minimum. Most river front lots have direct access to the river. There are two remaining riverfront lots for sale—502 and 512 Saskatchewan Road.
“Our new house is surrounded by trees. Our deck is quite high and it’s almost like being in a treehouse now because it’s enveloped in trees—it’s like a jungle in the spring and summer. There are so many birds—we’ve had robins nesting on the deck this summer and the bird feeders are always busy! We have chipmunks, squirrels and rabbits too as well as the occasional deer.” — Patti, River Front property owner
The name says it all—the higher elevation of our River View lots guarantees a panoramic view of the river valley. All of the River View properties back onto municipal green space. Small trees, native shrubs and wildflowers create a beautiful backdrop to build your new home. These gently sloped lots are ideal for a walk-out basement design.
“My friend came out here and said the view was just unreal, even from inside our house. Pretty much everybody says the view is just amazing from our house—from sitting in our living room, in our kitchen, or on our patio. We have a wraparound deck and everybody says the view is just spectacular.” — Tessa, River View property owner
For those seeking privacy, our affordable River Ridge lots are well-treed, allowing you to build your new home nestled within the mature trees and native vegetation. All our River Ridge lots offer great potential for a rear walk-out design.
“Everyone says it’s so beautiful out here—being in nature. They notice how quiet it is. If you are somebody like me, who still drive into Saskatoon every day for work, but you like to be in nature, it’s just a good option. It has the convenience of being close to the city, but it’s also a nice getaway from it.” — Taylor, River Ridge property owner
There is one remaining acreage property for sale at Sarilia—451 Saskatchewan Road. At 2.19 acres, it offers plenty of flexibility in your building site and architectural style. The lot backs onto a municipal park with easy access to the central trail system. The icing on the cake? This property has expansive, unparalleled river views. The perfect blank slate to build your dream home.
“The lot is fantastic. It’s about 2 acres. We are at the top of the hill with panoramic views. I didn’t want to be surrounded by trees—some people love that, and it feels like a cabin—but I wanted river views. We also back the nature preserve. The front yard is over an acre, where the kids can play. That was always the point—if we built, we needed room for the kids to run, but we still wanted to be in a community.” —Kelsee, acreage property owner
We met Taylor back in the fall of 2020, after she purchased a well-treed lot at Sarilia. As an architectural technologist, she was in the midst of planning her new build, a Humble Home, which she told us about in a previous blog post.
Fast forward to today: she’s settled into her beautiful new home, and she’s now the owner of a sweet golden retriever named Theo. “He’s five months old now. He loves it out here—running around the yard, he just gets so excited,” she says.
We recently caught up with Taylor to find out about how the build came together and what she thinks of her new life in the river valley.
Do you feel that the build of your new home went well overall? I would say so. It was my first time project managing a build on my own, so it was definitely a learning experience but it was really cool to purchase the land and do the design myself and be really involved in the whole construction process. It was a really good experience for me.
Can you tell me a about the layout of your home and how you designed it to fit your needs? It’s kind of funny because I think I went through about 19 different floor plans before I found one I was happy with. It was a process.
The house has three bedrooms and two baths. I have my own bedroom and I wanted a spare room for guests, and the third bedroom is used as my office. I have my own drafting company and I also work from home sometimes in my full-time job with Voce Developments. It’s nice to have that separate space.
It’s open concept. It has a big vaulted ceiling in my kitchen/living room area—lots of windows for natural light. It’s so nice in here during the day because all the sunlight comes in and brightens it up. It’s calm and cosy.
If you had to do it all over again, is there anything you’d do differently in regards to the design or build? I did all the painting myself, and next time I would definitely hire a painter! (Laughs)
Can you paint me a picture of what your lot looks like? I’m in the trees—my land was completely treed before I built. I have a view of the river bank on the other side.
Do you have a favourite room, or favourite feature in your new home? I have a couple of decks off of the house. My deck on the front is covered, and I have a deck on the other side of the house, so it’s perfect. Any time of day, I can have sun or shade. I can see myself spending lots of time out there this summer.
Back in 2020, you said it was more affordable to build a home like yours at Sarilia than to build or buy a new home in Saskatoon. Now that your home is complete, do you still feel that way? Yes, I would definitely say so. My house is just over 1,100 sq. Ft. To buy a similar house in Saskatoon, I can imagine it costing a lot more. I also saved a lot of money by managing the build myself. The lots out here are so affordable. If you can be smart with where you’re spending your money, and how you design your home, it’s definitely more affordable to build at Sarilia.
You’ve been settled in now since the fall. How does it feel to live in a home that you design and managed the build for? It’s honestly so rewarding. Just to come home and have that sense of accomplishment. Being out here is so beautiful, it’s so peaceful. The drive out really isn’t bad—the roads have been really good. Just coming out, being in the country, in nature—it’s awesome. You can watch the birds and hear the coyotes at night and it’s just so quiet.
Have you met many of your neighbours at Sarilia? There’s a ladies night that goes on here, so I went to that and met lots of women there. Everybody is so awesome. They’re so nice out here.
I was here for Halloween and there were lots of trick-or-treaters coming to my door. One of the ladies made a map for Sarilia with all the houses handing out candy. And then everybody comes around—it was really cool. There’s such a sense of community here.
Even taking my dog for a walk, you see someone on the road and everyone stops and says hi.
Were there any learning curves that came with moving to the country? For the first couple of months, it was just monitoring septic and water usage. (Sarilia homes use septic and cistern systems). I don’t use that much water—every couple of days I look at the water levels.
There is someone who delivers the water, and he can do emergency runs if you need it, but typically he makes the rounds every two weeks. He’ll send an email in advance, asking how much water we need. It’s really easy.
What kind of winter activities do you plan to partake in at Sarilia? There’s been talk about having a bonfire out here. I’d like to go cross-country skiing. The trails are just down the road. Just going out for walks and being in nature.
What about summer activities? Sarilia has its own beach, so I would like to go there this spring and summer. I paddle board and I fish, so I think being down by the river is just ideal for me.
What do your friends and family say when they visit your new home for the first time? Everybody says it’s so beautiful out here—being in nature. They notice how quiet it is, and say how gorgeous it is.
Now that you’ve lived at Sarilia for four months, what kind of person do you think would enjoy living here in the river valley? If you are somebody, like me, who still drives into Saskatoon every day for work, but you like to be in nature, it’s just a good option. It has the convenience of being close to the city, but it’s also a nice getaway from it.
We’re excited to introduce you to Patty and Lyle. Friendly, energetic and engaging, they’re recent transplants from Vancouver Island, although they’re born and bred Saskatchewanians. Having spent nearly eight years in Comox, they decided it was time to move home last year, and their path to Sarilia was somewhat serendipitous.
We recently chatted with Patty to learn a little bit about her and Lyle—why they decamped from BC, how they spend their free time, and what drew them back to Saskatchewan and their new home at Sarilia.
What was the catalyst behind the move to BC?
My son and daughter-in-law were living in BC temporarily, so we went to visit in January 2014, to escape the -40 temps. We discovered that there was a place in Canada that had temps in the teens in January and no snow!
In 2012 I was diagnosed with breast cancer and that experience puts a different perspective on things. Even though I had been working for the government for 30+ years, once we returned from Vancouver Island that January, we started thinking seriously about how we could relocate and try life somewhere else. None of us know when our expiry date will be, but we all have one.
Lyle had worked for UPS for 25+ years at that time, and in May of 2014 they were opening new locations up on Vancouver Island. He applied to relocate and we made the decision to go to Comox as it would allow Lyle to have a better schedule than in a larger community. His work life balance had been almost non existent with minimal time to be involved in any evening activities or events.
It was a risk to leave a stable government job but we made the leap of faith in fall of 2014 and never looked back. We got into new activities pretty quickly which helped us to meet friends and within a year or so Lyle was jamming with several local musicians and starting to help with the local minor football program.
Fast forward through years of great friends and fabulous memories and many visits out to see us from friends and family. Then the global pandemic hit and again we found ourselves re-evaluating our priorities which resulted in our decision to move back to Saskatchewan.
Lyle is winding down to retirement and I was lucky enough to bring my remote work that I had in BC, back to Saskatchewan with me. And here we are. Meeting new friends again and learning about new opportunities and activities we can be involved in.
How does it feel to be back in Saskatchewan?
It feels good. It feels right. We have a lot of family here. We have two granddaughters now. My husband and I were both married before, so I have two kids in Saskatchewan and he has three in Alberta. They’re all within a decent driving distance now and we’re happy about that.
Tell me about your new dog—Honey.
We visited a local rescue shelter WANAR (We All Need a Rescue) on July 2 to see what they might have available. We lost our dog of over 16 years about a year ago and we were ready to find a new housemate. Honey was 9 months old at that time. We fell in love instantly and she has settled in really well. Still training to do as she’s just a puppy but she’s learning every day, and so are we.
When and how did you hear about Sarilia?
I’ve known Gwen Lepage, Sarilia’ s developer, since the late 90s when we did some work together in La Ronge, where I lived at the time. We had stayed in touch and then when I moved to Saskatoon in 2005, we connected again. Around 2010 we were looking to move out of Saskatoon to a nearby community. Sarilia was just being developed at the time and we made the trip out to see what it was like. We really loved the idea of living there but with our jobs in the city and longer hours, it just wasn’t the right fit for us at the time. We ended up in Martensville but never forgot about Sarilia.
What was it about Sarilia itself that made it feel like a good fit for you and Lyle at this point in your life?
I am from La Ronge and lived there most of my life, and Lyle is from Snowden (near the Choiceland-Nipawin area) We both grew up in the bush line with lots of trees and I wasn’t into moving onto the bald Prairie. We were so used to trees and nature being around us and that’s what we were looking to come back to in Saskatchewan.
Our new house is surrounded by trees. Our deck is quite high and it’s almost like being in a treehouse now because it’s enveloped in trees—it’s like a jungle in the spring/summer. There are so many birds—we’ve had robins nesting on the deck this summer and the bird feeders are always busy! We have chipmunks, squirrels and rabbits too as well as the occasional deer, not to mention the coyotes and bears. It was a lot about the geography and the fact that the river is right there as well. I’m a paddler and I love the water so that was also important.
The purchase of your new home was somewhat serendipitous. Can you tell me about that?
When we were living in BC, and thinking about moving back, we were looking online just to see what real estate was like here. A house came up for sale at Sarilia on the SaskHouses site and we both fell in love with it instantly. It was surrounded by trees, and it was the style that we liked. It didn’t have a garage and the basement wasn’t done, but we saw all of the potential. I connected with Gwen and she filled me in on how Sarilia had grown since we last visited. This was back in January of 2021 and we weren’t ready to make the move yet but we planning to list our home that summer. In the meantime, the house we had found had sold so that was off the table.
We sold our home in BC in July 2021 and planned to move back in spring of 2022. We made a trip back in August to see what was available then. We considered building at Sarilia but after fully researching options and with the volatility in the construction market at the time we decided against it and returned to BC still not knowing where we would end up. We wanted to be near water and trees, and we also looked at a place at Blackstrap that we were very close to putting an offer on. Right at that time, in September of 2021 Gwen gave us a call and said, “You’re never going to believe this—the house you guys fell in love in January is back on the market.”
The home now had a finished basement and a garage. It was exactly what we were looking for—fairly close to the water, nestled in the trees. We “viewed” the house via FaceTime with our realtor and made an offer. The rest is history.
What do you both like to do in your spare time?
As mentioned, Lyle is winding down towards retirement. He always wanted to coach football and to be in a band…so it was a hope when we moved to BC that his new schedule could allow for that. He coached minor football in Courtenay/Comox and has already connected to the Martensville Maddogs football club and will be helping them with some coaching.
He also started a garage band while we were in BC, literally in our garage. They played different gigs around town in pubs, at wineries, and special events. So that’s his next thing—he’s got to find some other musicians and get back into that.
Lyle loves to garden. He was one of the first people this year to plant anything in Sarilia’s community garden and has enjoyed having that garden option. It’s also a great way to meet your neighbours.
The River Ridge trails are only a couple of kilometres from us, and the trails are for summer and winter use. Lyle has been taking full advantage of the trails this summer and Honey loves to go for walks out there too! Hopefully we can get into some cross-country skiing and/or snowshoeing as well. We certainly know what Saskatchewan winters are like so we need to embrace all of the things we can do in the colder weather too.
I hear you were a competitive paddler—tell me about that.
I started paddling in Saskatoon in 2013 on a breast cancer dragon boat team, a sport which I knew nothing about at that time, but I had canoed and loved being on the water. Once we settled in BC, I was quickly connected to a team there, consisting of all women who were survivors of various types of cancer. Paddling is year-round on Vancouver Island so dragon boating is a huge sport there for all ages, genders and levels.
After paddling with those amazing women for a couple of years (and I continued with that team as well) I was introduced to high level paddling and in 2017 started working towards a goal of competing with a competitive club coordinated out of Victoria, but with paddlers from across the island. This was not specifically a “cancer team” but consisted of paddling enthusiasts who were willing to put in a lot of time and work to build their skills. We competed mostly in BC in various regattas and qualified to race in Europe in 2018 in the Club Crew World Championships (held every two years). We brought home several medals and it was definitely the trip of a lifetime. The connections I’ve made through the sport are amazing and will be lifelong friends. I’m hoping to get into other types of paddling out here but it’s been a busy summer!
How one Sarilia family designed their new home with the planet in mind
Having recently moved to Sarilia from Saskatoon, Kelly, Andrew and their 4-year-old son, Logan, have successfully settled into their new home. Their new bungalow was designed to tread lightly on the planet, while taking advantage of the sweeping river views outside.
We recently chatted with the family to get to know them, to learn how they’ve incorporated environmentally friendly features into their new home, and how they’ll continue reducing their footprint with their future plans.
“It’s really important to become more self-sustainable,” says Kelly, “as we face the challenges of climate change as a society.”
Can you both tell me a little bit about yourselves?
Kelly: I was born in Saskatoon, but I actually grew up in the States and lived in China and Australia. I ended up back here to do my Masters, and I have a background in conservation biology.
My hobbies are anything to do with nature—I’m a big plant nerd, I love hiking and cooking and going on adventures with Logan and Andrew. That’s what drew us out to Sarilia— being in nature.
I also grew up near the Beaver Creek Conservation Area in Corman Park (from ages 3-10). I really enjoyed being able to run free, and just being on the prairies. When we went out to Sarilia for the first time, we just fell in love with the space even though it was the middle of winter. It definitely felt a lot like where I grew up as a child.
Andrew: I was born and raised in Saskatoon. I’ve always wanted to live in a smaller space, out of the city but not something terribly far away. We really loved the idea of being outside Saskatoon and being immersed in nature.
What do you do for fun?
Logan: Trick-or-treating and Paw Patrol.
Kelly: In the winter, we love to snow shoe. We definitely want to take up canoeing and kayaking. And as Logan gets older, he can do that too.
Andrew: We’ve been out on the river ridge trails—it’s a nice, accessible park. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to get back into some outdoor sports this summer. I want to get to that middle island (in the North Saskatchewan River). I’ve only fished a few times as a kid but it’ll be nice to have that river access, and that will probably be of interest.
What was it that attracted you to Sarilia?
Kelly: Originally we were looking around where I grew up (near Beavercreek) but the lots were very expensive. Andrew had seen Sarilia on Reddit of all places.
Andrew: We noticed it was north of Langham and decided to go for a drive.
Kelly: So, we drove out there, and it was just so beautiful. We just fell in love with it. It was so peaceful. I went from living in the country to living in really big cities and I remember when we were standing out there, Andrew said, “there is no noise.”
We lived in Saskatoon at the time. It wasn’t like this 10 years ago, but now, you’re constantly hearing noises in the city.
One thing I missed was seeing the night sky in full, or seeing storms coming through. It’s just something that you don’t get unless you live in the country. And so we started researching Sarilia a bit more after we drove out there and we saw how affordable it was.
Andrew: There are tons of young families at Sarilia and that was what really sealed the deal for us. With Logan, there are lots of people our age who have kids—so we are all in that same stage of life together, and I think that’s great to have that kind of community of people.
Can you tell me about your new home?
Kelly: It’s a bungalow with a vaulted ceiling. There are large windows in the front and there’s an overhanging roof over the deck—that’s the part that looks out over the river. And we have a walkout basement. We really wanted to have those big windows to bring in a lot of natural light and expand the view as much as possible—because it’s quite an amazing view that we managed to get.
I understand it was built in an energy efficient way. Can you tell me about that?
Andrew: The house is built with ICE (Insulated Composite Envelope) panels. They are made of styrofoam and steel. We really liked the concept of a very tight, well-insulated house. It’s pre-engineered, so it’s typically a faster build because the walls are pre-cut, and basically it’s like a LEGO set, to put it all together. It will really reduce the cost of heating.
For the roof, we decided to go with metal instead of shingles.
Kelly: Metal roofs are a lot better for insulation and deflecting the sun—and it’s able to support solar as well.
Were there other environmentally friendly features that were important to you?
Andrew: We really wanted to do solar and we’re still planning to do that. It’s just that to build green off the bat, it’s not at a viable stage yet (cost-wise). There are a lot of incentives in terms of retrofitting, but there’s not a lot when it comes to building green upfront.
We’re not going to water the grass—we are going to keep it natural Prairie. It’s so much nicer than having to worry about that in the city. We’ll also try to improve the land with some trees.
For our long term plans, the garage will be retrofitted to support an electric vehicle, to take into account the rising gas prices and the commute between the city and home—it is a way of offsetting that.
Kelly: We’re also incorporating a lot of native species into our landscaping. We’re trying to restore the Prairie that we dug up when the house was built. Hopefully planting more native species will help increase the biodiversity.
As we face the challenges of climate change as society, we need to become more self-sustainable—for example, growing your own food and maybe having a home that’s not completely off the grid but is capable of doing that in the future.
A lot of what we do personally and professionally, we do to make the world a better place, for not just our son, but generations in front of us—at least we try to.
Proactive, pragmatic, and detail-driven, Karen Flasch has been earning accolades from both her clients and the Sarilia community. Over the past year, she’s steadfastly managed a successful build here at Sarilia—in a way that minimized disruption to the neighbours.
When construction material prices skyrocketed and shipment delays became the new normal, Karen stockpiled materials for her client’s build in her own garage, in order to keep her project on time and on budget. “It was fully loaded up to the ceiling,” says Karen, with a laugh.
We’ve heard nothing but good things about her through the grapevine, so we decided to reach out and learn more about Karen, her company, and the home she’s building for her client here in the river valley.
Tell me about your business. I am a co-owner of Flasch Contracting. My son and I operate this business together. His name is Colton Flasch. I have been in the construction industry with an incorporated company for the last 16 years. So I’ve been a woman in this industry for quite a few years.
Tell me about yourself, and Colton. I enjoy spending time with my children and granddaughter. I love to travel and am looking forward to hopefully doing that again.
When Colton isn’t working, he is a professional curler who trains very hard. He has won several provincial titles, two Canadian titles (one at junior level), and a one-time silver at world’s in 2019. In the summer, you will find Colton on a golf course in his off time.
Can you describe the lot that you’re building on at Sarilia? It’s a riverfront lot. My customer, Nickie, decided to buy two lots and we parcel-tied them together so she has a larger than average lot. The lot is perfectly set up for a walkout basement, so that’s what we chose to do.
What were Nickie’s priorities for her new house? She definitely wanted that view of the river, so the A-frame design, expansive windows, the loft, and the two decks helped us achieve that. It was all about the view, and the serenity and peacefulness of watching the river and the wildlife.
Sarilia residents have been very impressed by how clean you keep the job site. Is that always a priority, and how to you keep neighbours happy during a build? As a general contractor, my priority is to communicate a lot with my subcontractors to make sure everybody is on the same page with the timeframe.
Even if we’ve had to temporarily store lumber somewhere while we’re waiting for the bin to be dumped, we make sure there’s nothing laying around (either materials or garbage), and that we’re parked in the right spot.
Aside from stockpiling materials in your own garage, how did you manage the challenges of building during the pandemic? Luckily, I have very good subcontractors who have been very proactive. As an example, my plumber said he wanted to order the furnace and ducting early on in the project. I’m very happy he suggested that, because it saved our customer a ton of money, and if we hadn’t ordered early we would probably still be waiting now.
Would you consider building at Sarilia again? Absolutely. We know what is expected out there. Gwen (the developer) is good at communicating and letting us know what we need to do. And the inspector from the RM of Laird has been super helpful.
I just want to make sure we do the best job possible, and that we are following the architectural design standards, out of respect for the beautiful grasslands and the river. It’s an honour to be able to work out there. There aren’t many places like that anymore. It’s a beautiful spot, so to be part of it is exciting.
We’re thrilled to welcome Kelsee, Gavin and their five kids to Sarilia this January. Having lived in Warman since they were married ten years ago, the couple weren’t even considering moving to a new neighbourhood, until Kelsee—an avid runner—was inspired by a beautiful river view she saw on one of her frequent runs.
“I had done a few runs close to Swift Current at Beaver Flats and that area has a river view,” she says. “So, when we were talking about updating our current house or building new, we decided the only way we would move is if we could get that river view.”
They found that vibrant river vista here at Sarilia and we couldn’t be happier to have this energetic family as new neighbours.
We recently chatted with Kelsee to learn more about her family, their new home, and their plans for their new life in the river valley.
Tell me a little bit about yourself, and your husband Gavin. I was a teacher, but since having kids, I have done personal training out of my home. I also have a degree in music—and I do balloon animals. Basically, if there’s something weird out there for a hobby, I do it. My husband is an engineer.
Gavin is quite active—he does slow-pitch and curling and he likes to play rec hockey. I used to be a long-distance runner. We like to go hiking and we’re so excited that the River Ridge trails are close to Sarilia. We went out there last winter and we were just amazed by how great they were. We have lots of family close by, so we like to hang out with them. We’re quite social.
Gavin is from Osler and I’m from North Battleford, so neither of us went very far from home.
Can you tell me about the lot you purchased here at Sarilia? The lot is fantastic. It’s about 2 acres. We are at the top of the hill with panoramic views. I didn’t want to be surrounded by trees—some people love that, and it feels like a cabin—but I wanted river views. We also back the nature preserve.
The front yard is over an acre, where the kids can play. That was always the point—if we built, we needed room for the kids to run, but we still wanted to be in a community. On a larger acreage, I’d be driving my kids to see their friends, whereas here, they can just walk down the hill.
What are your plans for the yard? We were hoping to put in a zip line. And maybe a BMX track on the hill.
Tell me about your new home. We’ve built a big white farmhouse style with two-storeys and a walkout basement. It’s got a covered porch and covered deck. We’ve got an oversized three-car garage so that I have space for my gym in there.
How old are your kids? Our oldest, Bradley, is 8, and Mark is 7. Felix just turned 5, and we have a 4-year-old, Moe, and an 1-year-old, Deuce.
What did your kids think about the move to Sarilia? We told them about the zip line, so they’re excited about that. Our new home isn’t a lot bigger than our Warman house, but it looks a lot bigger because we put the garage beside it, not in front of it. And so they think we’re moving into a mansion (laughs).
You decided to work with Westbury Homes on the construction of your new home. What made you choose them for your builder? We sent an email out to several builders after we found this lot. We gave them our budget and must-haves, and asked, ‘Can we afford to do this?’ And lots of builders gave a very generic response.
Ben at Westbury got back to us and was so down-to-earth. He said the budget would work and showed us some projects they had done and gave us a rough price per square foot. He did so much research. He had already contacted Gwen (Sarilia’s developer) before responding to our email, to find out about building at Sarilia.
He was just great from the beginning and his wife, Jenn, is a designer and they work together. I have a definite style but could not put it together on my own, and Jenn is so great because she gives me a couple of options and I can’t go wrong either way.
What are you most looking forward to about your new life at Sarilia? I am looking forward to it being quiet—not seeing cars coming and going all the time. I’m just going to become one of those slow-moving coffee drinkers.
What do you think Gavin is looking forward to? I think he’s looking forward to the quiet too. Just kind of sitting, looking at the view, and knowing we don’t have to worry about the kids running into traffic or anything like that.
What about your kids? Digging holes. It’s very specific. In fact, when the excavating was done for the basement, my kids almost peed themselves because of the big dirt piles. They asked if the piles were staying. But there are enough hills and dirt that I’m sure they’ll build like gophers.
Do you think your family will get into canoeing or kayaking on the river this summer? We went to camp last summer and the kids were all kayaking and canoeing, so we thought, ‘Sarilia will be a good fit for them.’ We didn’t want a riverfront lot because I was a bit concerned about the kids and the water, so we have access to the water without it being too close. We own a camper, so (buying) a kayak is probably the next step.
Do you remember what your first impression of Sarilia was? It was gorgeous. Not all of the lots have river views, but there is definitely a type of lot for every person. Some people really like that closed-in cabin feeling and there are lots of those kind of properties that are tucked into the trees.
The lot we ended up getting was my favourite part of Sarilia. When we first visited, I parked my car at a lookout point, and I was like, “oh this is the million-dollar view.” But it wasn’t for sale (it was marked for future development).
But, after chatting with Gwen about the type of lot we were looking for to build a home and raise our kids, she decided to sell it to us.
What kinds of activities will you do as a family this winter? I can see us getting into those river trails (at River Ridge). They have snowshoeing out there, so I could see us doing a lot of that. We could easily get into the cross-country skiing there too. Although arming my kids with spiky poles is concerning (laughs), maybe I’ll just pull them on their skis.
Is there anything else you’d like to share? We’ve very excited to meet everybody. It seems like the residents do a really great job of building community and hosting events and we love stuff like that. It will be a really nice change for us.
We had family photos taken recently and the photographer mentioned that there are several other new families here so that’s exciting. We won’t feel like the only new people.