Welcome to Co-op Foundations.  This is where we highlight in-depth stories about our members, partners, programs and services.  We hope their accomplishments will inspire, educate and motivate. Foundations brings to life the original spirit of our long-running member magazine.

The name Foundations play on the dual meaning of a (co-op’s) building foundation and ‘foundational’ stories that help to define our movement.

  22 January 2021   

Greening your co-op — Getting EV ready!

Fortunately, there are resources – and rebates – to help co-ops and other housing providers with MURBs introduce charging stations more easily and affordably. As of December 3, 2020 the provincially funded program has been expanded to include rebates for EV chargers and the electrical upgrades needed to make the building EV Ready. Taking advantage of these rebates now means co-ops can reduce the overall cost per parking space for installing EV chargers in multi-unit buildings, and simplifies the process to install additional chargers as more EVs are adopted over time.

But with the rebate application deadline coming up quickly (February 28, 2021), now is a great time to get the process started at your co-op.

Andy Rose, a Griffin’s Walk Co-op member, recommended a process of providing helpful information, facilitating open dialogue, allowing for plenty of questions, and drawing on the help of Plugin BC (a program of the Fraser Basin Council).

“Get the discussion started right away, because it will take some time,” Rose said. G...

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  21 October 2020   

Rooftops Canada: Celebrating 35 Years of Housing Partnerships

As the international program of Canadian co-operative and social housing organizations, Rooftops Canada has dedicated itself to working through partnerships to improve housing and build communities in the Global South.

Training people and building local institutions are integral parts of what Rooftops Canada does. Together with its domestic and overseas partners, we have brought security, affordable housing and new livelihoods to thousands of urban families previously subsisting in slums and other perilous living conditions. Together, we remain focused on housing rights, gender equality and sustainability.

Rooftops Canada has been supported by major funders like Global Affairs Canada, but it relies very much on the generosity and engagement of co-operative and social housing organizations such as CHF BC that share in its vision of equitable global development.

Over the years, CHF BC has been very active in our work, hosting many visitors from South Africa and sharing its experiences with the co-op housing model. In 2017, this included four people from the Nati...

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  30 September 2020   

Co-ops resilient in a challenging time

The answer is, it turns out, as varied as our co-op sector. Each co-op, big or small, in the city or suburbs, or with a resident mix of mostly seniors or young families – all had different experiences with the onset of the pandemic. Since the spring, CHF BC has been on hand to support co-ops through the ups and downs of our growing virtual reality, with new online education opportunities and meeting support.

“A lot of the co-ops, especially if they have a strong board or committee structure, were off and running since the spring,” said Ed Dagsaan, CHF BC’s Co-op Services Advisor. “They were able to put up flyers and assist their members, but some co-ops struggled because they didn’t have systems in place to communicate with their members or they just didn’t have the tools to help them. It’s been great for us to be there to advise them with different requirements, how to do meetings, and other issues.”

When the pandemic set in the CHF BC inquiries for support did as well, with member inquiries jumping from 76 in February to 146 in June – a time of ...

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  19 February 2020   

Small can be beautiful

That’s what members of nine Vancouver co-ops discovered at a recent meeting to discuss what it’s like to live in “small-er” co-op communities. The Jan. 25 gathering at Kitsilano Neighbourhood House gave the group of 17 co-op residents a chance to network, learn and tackle questions unique to small co-ops. They even talked about what “small” means, given the diversity of co-ops throughout B.C. and across the country.

There was a lot of enthusiasm and conversation in the room even before the meeting got underway, with co-op members excited to learn about all they shared and hearing solutions to common challenges.

CHF BC staff were on hand to facilitate the discussion, which kicked off with members listing the advantages and challenges of living in their small co-op communities.

From survey results and the in-person discussions, the top challenge noted by members was consistently finding enough members able to take on co-op governance responsibilities. This was especially the case in the smallest co-ops. Participants also noted it could sometimes be d...

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  8 January 2020   

La Petite Maison Co-op cooking happily in new kitchens

The young parents have discovered the safety and familiarity of their Champlain Heights neighbourhood is exactly what they were hoping for to raise their children.

“I grew up around here and went to the high school and I remember all my friends already knew each other – that’s because they all lived in co-ops around Champlain Heights and played together,” said Matt Charan. “It’s a great place to raise a family.’

“We can send our kids outside to play and we don’t have to worry – there are lots of other kids and parents around,” added Erin Charan.

Built in the late 1970s, La Petite Maison Co-op is a 66-unit co-op of two, three and four bedroom townhouses arranged so they all face a wide inner yard with a playground and a large common building for co-op meetings. Mature leafy trees give a rural feel to the setting of this urban co-op.

But the flooring, cabinets and countertops were beginning to show their age, prompting the co-op to look to CHF BC’s Group Buying partners for expertise and cost-savings.

Danube Kitchens offers ...

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  2 January 2020   

Healthy meetings make for healthy co-ops

With clear systems and procedures in place, meetings run smoothly and residents are engaged – making for a positive co-op environment. CHF BC’s new Meeting Tools provides online tools and resources to help your co-op demystify the meeting process, including templates to help you prepare for and manage your meetings.

Your co-op is likely to have several meetings throughout the year to set goals, plan business and keep members informed. It’s important to understand that different types of meetings require different tools, and are governed by certain rules and legal requirements. It’s also important to create an inclusive environment where everyone is encouraged to participate and different opinions are heard and valued – while remaining on topic.

With many different types of meetings it can seem overwhelming to plan and prepare for them in a way that ensures business gets done and requirements are fulfilled. CHF BC has recently launched more than 30 online meeting tool templates to make it easy for directors, staff and chair people to prepare for and operate ...

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