Long-term planning is critical to co-op success. To successfully plan, a co-op needs to understand its property, its finances, its legal obligations, and its members’ requirements and goals. We can help! And our services are always evolving to better address co-op needs.
Long-term planning is essential for co-ops to succeed. CHF BC offers a variety of services to help members develop and implement plans.
Whether your co-op needs engineering studies, viability analyses, or a holistic financial plan, we can help. And if your co-op anticipates a need to borrow money or undertake a major capital project, we can help with that, too. Our program aims to make it easy for CHF BC member co-ops to access professional planning services and financing. We want to ensure that co-ops remain sustainable, thriving communities.
The video provides an overview of what we do, but our program continues to expand.
We have information on a lot of planning topics. Here are a few quick links to help you find what you're most interested in.
Right now, co-ops can access funding to help pay for studies useful for long-term planning!
Most co-ops have (or have had) operating agreements with Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC); others have relationships with BC Housing.
Co-ops with CMHC agreements may be eligible for Preservation Funding — a program designed to help community housing partners, including co-ops, obtain technical reports, financial analyses, energy audits and other studies. The maximum funding is up to $50,000. CHF BC services are eligible, and we encourage co-ops with CMHC agreements to apply and work with us.
In BC there are also provincial programs that target energy efficiency gains. Through the Social Housing Retrofit Support Program, non-profit housing co-ops can receive energy study funding (up to $5,000) and support funding.
We recommend looking at co-op assets holistically. If you don’t have a recent building condition assessment report, that should be a priority, but be sure to consider other relevant studies at the same time. (This is particularly relevant if you’re considering CMHC Preservation Funding.)
In 2014, CHF BC began developing asset management plans for client co-ops. The team working on those plans has expanded over time. At present, there are five staff members working directly on planning with varied educational backgrounds and experience.
The current team’s educational credentials include degrees across several disciplines: Bachelor of Arts (Business Administration); Bachelor of Science; Bachelor in Accounting, Bachelor of Laws; and Sustainable Energy Management and Construction Certificate (in progress).
Collectively staff have experience with asset management planning, property management, accounting (CPA/CGA), administration, construction, and project management (PMP) in Canada and abroad.
Good information is the foundation of a useful plan. Co-ops, just like strata corporations and non-profit societies, need to understand the current status of their buildings.
What does your co-op need to look after? What sort of timeframes are involved? What are the likely costs? Technical reports from engineers provide a start on the answers. The most common report is the building condition assessment (BCA) or depreciation report. We partner with engineers to offer these and other services.
An engineering report is only the first step. Engineers know buildings, but they aren’t as well informed about co-op finances, governance or relationships with other organizations (which affect land tenure or subsidies, or anything else, really).
CHF BC can develop long-term asset management plans (AMP) based on data from engineers, but informed by member opinion and taking into account a co-op’s unique circumstances.
How will the co-op pay for keeping up its buildings? As part of our services, we’ll make recommendations on saving and borrowing (and grant opportunities, when available).
If analysis shows borrowing is part of the solution, we can help your co-op with financing options. Some co-ops also need to refinance existing debt independently of funding new capital projects. We can help with that, too. Vancity is a program partner, but co-ops retain full independence in deciding who to work with.
In some cases, co-ops may be eligible for financial assistance from government.
At some point, major projects will lie in your co-op’s future and these need special care. CHF BC can offer help with obtaining appraisals, finding a professional project manager, and setting the stage for design and tendering work.
Professional project management is critical for larger projects (and required if a lender is involved). A good project manager can make all the difference, having the knowledge the co-op needs to best deal with the contractors who actually carry out the work.
CHF BC recognizes the importance of regular and preventative maintenance.
For many co-ops, professional management will support maintenance efforts, and ensure that co-ops meet warranty obligations and follow operational and maintenance recommendations from AMPs (designed to optimize life cycle costs). CHF BC’s membership includes a number of management companies. Co-ops currently without management support might consider the services they offer. Annual planning and good record-keeping are both important for co-op viability.
Marigold Housing Co-operative's president, Jay Watts, talks about long-term planning, the co-op's work with CHF BC and how Vancity was able to assist with financing necessary roof work.
Marigold is the largest housing co‑operative on Vancouver Island. They have 86 two to four bedroom units housed in 13 buildings on three small private roads.