A Dynamic Partnership Towards More Co-op Homes in Vancouver

  15 March 2024

On March 13, 2024, Thom Armstrong, CEO of the Co-operative Housing Federation of BC and the Community Land Trust Foundation, addressed the City of Vancouver’s Standing Committee on City Finance and Services. His remarks expressed support for Councillor Sarah-Kirby-Yung’s motion regarding co-operative housing in Vancouver. Titled “The Future of Co-op Housing—A Path to Delivering More Co-op Homes in Vancouver,” the motion includes the following directions to staff:

  1. Explore opportunities to build new co-op housing on city-owned land that currently houses existing co-ops.
  2. Investigate partnerships with the Co-op Housing Federation of BC and other non-profits to develop a new co-op housing model. This model will retain city ownership of land and support community land trusts.
  3. Update the False Creek South Development Plan to address housing needs, retain city ownership of land, and enhance community amenities.
  4. Proceed with community planning processes after presenting the updated False Creek South Development Plan.
  5. Identify projects prioritizing new attainable middle-income homes for support from BC Builds and federal government investments.

The motion passed with unanimous support from Council! You can read the City of Vancouver media release here [PDF]. Thank-you to our supporters who took the time to speak in favour of this motion. It means a lot to us, the co-op housing community, and those who would like to live in a co-op home. Their remarks follow Thom’s comment on the video linked to below.

Partnering for more co-op homes in Vancouver

Here are Thom’s speaking points. Video footage of Thom’s remarks to Council is available YouTube.


Good morning/afternoon, Mayor and Council. It’s a pleasure to join you for this important discussion.

I’m Thom Armstrong, CEO of the Co-operative Housing Federation of BC and the Community Land Trust Foundation. I’m here today to speak in support of the motion before you.

There are more than 15,000 co-op homes in BC. Almost 6,400 of them are right here in the City of Vancouver. More than half of those homes are on city-owned land. That may sound like a lot, but relative to the need it’s literally a drop in the bucket. Vancouver’s housing co-ops are home to a rich diversity of incomes, backgrounds, and households. All of the things that make for vibrant, sustainable communities.

The biggest problem with co-ops is that there aren’t nearly enough of them, and many are in need of a significant reinvestment. This motion represents an opportunity to face those challenges directly in a dynamic partnership between the City and the co-op community.

Political alignment

It’s rare that all of the pieces of a big puzzle come together at the same time, but that’s exactly the situation we find ourselves in today:

It seems obvious that the low-hanging fruit here is the inventory of vacant land in the City.  That is the quickest route to BC Builds funding, and we are ready to tackle that opportunity with you. But as the motion highlights, there are existing co-op communities ready to expand on the sites they have occupied for decades. Many of them outside False Creek South.

The co-op sector is ready

Until now, the prevailing assumption may have been that market-led options are the only viable way to add density and affordability to existing communities. But we know that’s not the case.

The co-op form of tenure can accommodate the full range of incomes and rents needed to make new development and redevelopment viable. That’s why we are committed to the principle that co-op sites are for co-op homes. We are counting on you to work with us to turn that principle into practice.

I want to thank Councillor Kirby-Yung for bringing this motion forward. And I also want to thank the mayor and all councillors for consistently supporting co-op housing over the years.

The co-op housing sector has never been more prepared to partner with you in this venture. Let’s get to work tomorrow on building a bright future for co-op housing in Vancouver.

Thank you for your time and for your support.