about housing cooperatives
As one arm of the global cooperative movement, co-op housing has roots going back to the late 1800’s in Europe. This movement blossomed in Canada largely in the 1970’s and 80’s due to Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation support for new co-op housing development.
The majority of housing co-ops in Canada are “non-equity” co-ops: if a member leaves the co-op, they receive back their membership share (i.e. $1000) and the housing unit returns to the co-op to be provided to another family or individual. These co-ops exist to provide secure, affordable housing to their members and are owned and managed by the members themselves. Members pay a monthly housing fee towards the on-going maintenance, collective mortgage and operating costs of the cooperative.
A smaller number of housing co-ops are “equity” co-ops in which a member is able to accumulate equity and sell their unit back to the cooperative or to an approved new member upon departure. These types of housing co-ops are sometime referred to as “strata cooperatives” as they share much common ground with a typical strata development. Blueberry Commons is an “equity coop.”
In both cases, the co-op is incorporated under the Cooperative Act which provides a framework for how the co-op functions and how governance is undertaken. Like all co-ops, housing co-ops adhere to the seven core cooperative principles:
- Open and voluntary membership
- Democratic member control
- Member economic participation
- Autonomy and independence
- Education and training for members
- Cooperation with other cooperatives
- Concern for the community
See the following organizations for information about the cooperative housing movement in Canada:
Cooperative Housing Federation of BC www.chf.bc.ca
Cooperative Housing Federation of Canada http://www.chfcanada.coop
Cooperative Housing International http://www.housinginternational.coop/
We have chosen the legal structure of an equity cooperative for Blueberry Commons (as opposed to a strata or corporation) for several important reasons:
We resonate more with coop values and principles than with those of other legal structures.
A cooperative structure allows us the ability to limit the sale of coop housing units to approved members while a strata does not.
A coop structure is very amenable to other activities beyond housing such as business activities (worker cooperatives), and collective purchasing (consumer cooperatives).
It is exciting to be part of a world wide social movement of folks like us trying to take back control of their local economies through the cooperative sector.