Century of Co-operation: Kathleen “Kay” McDonald “In a co-op you don’t feel lonely at all!

  26 October 2020

Kay was living in an apartment in Burnaby she didn’t like and heard about Cariboo Heights Co-op from a friend. She came to see it and applied.

“I’ve been here ever since. I think it’s wonderful – I do! When you’re in an apartment you go down a hallway, shut your door and you’re in there and that’s it. But here I’m in a nice unit at the end, I’ve got good neighbours all around, we’ve all been here for most of us the same length of time and I can go outside and see people and talk to people — and you don’t feel lonely at all.”

Kay was president of the co-op the year they had a disaster with a fire, and she had to work with the insurance company and refinish the co-op common room.

Another time a tree fell on her place. It was morning and she was still in her pajamas watching television, otherwise she would have been hurt because the tree came into her bedroom.

“I was very fortunate. It was not meant to be,” she says. “My insurance covered it, and they put me up at the Best Western Motel for three months and redid my place.

For 16 of the 21 years Kay has lived in her co-op she was on the landscaping committee.

“I really enjoyed that because I like gardening”. She would do things like show other members how to make hanging baskets. Now she still does her own garden.

“It’s really nice, you know, to be able to have a garden!”

Everyone in the 56-unit co-op has one.

“We all have different ideas of what we want, we all have front and back yards so we can put in whatever we want. Some have vegetable gardens. There are lots of trees and there’s a great big playground for the kids. “

Kay has volunteered with the City and continues to be involved in her local community.

With the current COVID pandemic, things have changed but she doesn’t feel as isolated as she might be because “my neighbours are outside, we can look at each other, talk over the fence or the trees, so you don’t feel like you’re totally alone.”

And then she has her grown children, two sons and a daughter, as well as eight grandchildren. Her son will do her grocery shopping and drop it by on the sidewalk in front of her place.

“It’s really great when I say, ‘how much’, and they say ‘forget it Mom’!”

Kathleen McDonald is a 2020 winner of our Century of Co-operation Awards that celebrates long-time co-op members whose age plus their years of living in a co-op community equals 100 years or more.