Even the eagles admire Garry Point Housing Co-op in Steveston

It’s easy to see why someone would want to live in Garry Point Co-op, our Co-op of the Month for July 2012. Set in the picturesque village of Steveston the co-op is within walking distance of local festivals: Canada Day, the Steveston Salmon Festival, the tall ships festival "Ships to Shore Steveston," and it’s where the community holds farmers' markets and live music and where tourists come to visit the Gulf of Georgia Cannery and Fisherman’s Wharf.

Ferhan Kassam is a long-time member of Garry Point Co-op. 

“We are right on the dikes almost touching Garry Point Park on the water. We have a small bridge with fountains on either side to get us over and we can walk or bike. We see the snow-capped mountains on one side and the park on the other.”

“Even the eagles admire our co-op from the trees, and turtles and ducks enjoy our fountains.”

The co-op lives up to the slogan of the International Year of Co-operatives, “Co-operative enterprises build a better world.”  Ferhan explains,"the co-op's active committees, dedicated committee members and other co-op members get involved to make this particular enterprise beautiful and enjoyable to live in.” 

In 1985 when he arrived in Canada from Tanzania with two young children, Ferhan moved into the then new co-op. “We felt the co-op would be a nice place for our kids to play with other children. Later when I became a single parent that transition was easier because the co-op is always a friendly place to be; the kids were safe and enjoying their normal activities.”

The co-op celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2010 and continues to be home to a mix of people: from the very young to older adults, families, some with single parents, seniors "and of course the young-at-heart.”

“We come together with diverse cultures and roots  - all living in harmony," Ferhan says.

Co-op members take part in celebrations throughout the year and work together to keep the co-op beautiful with spring and fall clean-up work parties where the co-op provides breakfast and lunch. The co-op also works to maintain the buildings and to use sustainable products.

"We try to be proactive and plan ahead with short-term and long-term projects to keep our co-op ship-shape," Ferhan says. "We belong to both CHF BC and CHF Canada whose involvement, guidance and programs have got us where we are today.”

Ferhan's children, now in their 30s, have moved out of the co-op. Long active in his co-op's finance committee, about ten years ago he stepped up to take on the role of his co-op's CHF BC delegate.“This is my home and will always be my home – I have all my memories here. My personal goal is that with the help of the Federation we can make sure that co-ops are sustainable so we can pass on this legacy.”