Every business and community in BC is being affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and housing co-ops are no exception. CHF BC members have been asking us for advice on a range of issues. You will find our answers and resources below.COVID-19 General Guidance | Helping Members in Financial Distress | Resources for meetings during COVID-19 | Concern for Community
Find information and links to some great general resources for your community at this time.
CHF BC has moved all its in-person events and services online, and members are encouraged to join us for these free virtual opportunities. Watch a recording of Housing Co-ops and COVID-19: a Virtual Town Hall for CHF BC members on April 22, and Ask the Lawyers: A Virtual Town Hall for CHF BC members on May, on our YouTube page.
Check our event calendar for more opportunities.
Our advice at the moment is that co-ops should do whatever they can to be part of the solution to the COVID-19 pandemic. That means limiting contact among people and practising social distancing to the greatest extent possible.
We canvassed the views of maintenance services including our own at COHO and the staff at BC Housing. They are providing maintenance and repair services to occupied homes only in emergency situations. All regular or routine maintenance is being restricted to vacant homes and common areas (interior and exterior). We think this is prudent in the circumstances and important for the protection of co-op members, staff and tradespeople. Of course there are always situations that call for judgement to be exercised. If, for example, a home is vacant because a member is away on vacation, it may be possible to have work done safely in the home while the member is away. That’s a decision for the board to make.
The board is charged with a special responsibility to act at all times in the best interests of the co-op. This sometimes calls for tough choices to be made. In the current situation, it is difficult for us to imagine that it’s in the co-op’s best interests to proceed with business as usual.
Trail Appliances has now closed all retail stores and outlets to protect the safety of their staff and clients. They are still able to provide curbside delivery but cannot offer haul-away service at this time. If your co-op has an emergency request, please contact Jamie Dosanjh at email@example.com. All other requests should go to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cabinets and Countertops:
Danube Kitchens, our cabinet and countertops partner on the Mainland, will still provide service on request, while respecting health and safety guidelines. If you have a request, please contact email@example.com.
Our flooring partners in the Lower Mainland, CD Contract and K&A Flooring, are both available for service on request, while respecting health and safety guidelines. On Vancouver Island, the Island Flooring Centre is closed but available on request. For any flooring requests, please contact Chrissy Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our partner RONA stores are still open and you can shop until 6:00 p.m. You can also shop online. If you need more information or to request a service, please contact Brad LeGrow at email@example.com.
Our telecom program partner TELUS has let us know that their technicians will not enter units to upgrade wiring to fibre-optic. Regular internet speed upgrades and repair appointments are still happening with modifications for safety. You can visit TELUS.com/covid19 for the most up to date information on how they are supporting clients in this uncertain time. And for any members with questions, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our Waste and Recycling partners Waste Connections on the Mainland and GFL Environmental on the Island continue to provide all services with no interruption.
If you have additional questions about any of our Group Buying programs, including ways we can help your co-op access group buying services at this time, please contact Arnold Sang at email@example.com.
Here you will find resources to help your co-op and its members deal with financial distress brought on by the challenge of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.
You are eligible to claim the TRS if you live in:
Members in provincially funded co-ops and members already receiving rent supplements or paying government-subsidized housing charges are not eligible.
Other eligibility criteria apply to all tenants and co-op members.
We have received inquiries from co-ops and co-op members about how to interpret the TRS guidelines found HERE.
Here is a short translation guide for housing co-ops. For your purposes:
CHF BC is grateful to BC Housing for being so fair and flexible in establishing that co-op members qualify for the TRS.
Co-op members can APPLY HERE. Co-ops then complete the second part of the application. Bear in mind that the program is not retroactive, so you will need to apply by the end of April to receive a payment for April housing charges. BC Housing’s turnaround time on depositing payments in co-op accounts is very fast.
Questions can be directed to BC Housing at 778-452-2836 (Lower Mainland) or 1-877-757-2577 (Toll free) or to CHF BC at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On March 24, CHF BC issued a memo to all member co-ops called Helping Members in Financial Distress during COVID-19. Thank you for your positive response to that memo. We believe it sets out a sound approach, and this will add to that advice.
If you haven’t communicated with your members about April 1 housing charges, now is the time to do that. We recommend something very simple.
First, we recommend that you send a short notice to all members similar to this sample notice (MS Word file — will download). The purpose of the memo is to advise members that:
CHF BC will publish a summary of the assistance available from all levels of government later today. We will also publish additional information this week to help you make agreements with members to defer housing charge payments if needed.
We are living through a very volatile situation. Things are changing daily, if not hourly, and we will be monitoring developments carefully to ensure that our response is relevant and appropriate. By acting responsibly now, we will be laying the foundation for the weeks and months to come.
Don’t hesitate to contact us with your questions at email@example.com and please stay safe.
In response to questions from members we have developed resources that offer the latest guidance to help co-ops.
Here is some information about co-op meetings during the social isolation requirements of the COVID-19 pandemic.
We offered some advice on March 18 to address this issue, but the province’s Corporate Registry has just made things even easier. Co-ops have been given an automatic extension of the deadline for holding an AGM, effective March 31, 2020. Here is the Corporate Registry Bulletin confirming this information.
Between now and September 30, 2020 you will not need to ask the Registry’s permission to postpone the date of your AGM, but you will have to advise your members if you decide to schedule the AGM after the usual deadline. This is a very helpful convenience. There is some ambiguity in the Registry’s announcement and follow-up correspondence, and for the moment it is not clear whether an automatic delay can extend beyond September 30. We will try to clear this up in the next few days, but for now you can safely assume that any AGM can be delayed at least until September 30 as long as you advise your members of your decision.
Thanks for your COVID-19 advice. Our Board is about to meet via video-conference. How do we do Consent Resolutions?
If your board is meeting by video-conference, there is no need for a consent resolution. Consent resolutions are only used where it is not possible to have a meeting, and a video-conference is a valid meeting as long as quorum is present and everyone can hear and respond to each other.
Some things to note about the form of resolution:
You can poll the members by email to find out how they feel about the proposed increase, but that’s not enough to make a binding decision. In some co-ops the board sets the housing charges. In others, new housing charges must be approved by ordinary resolution at a members’ meeting called for that purpose. An email poll is not a meeting, so you’ll need to consider other options.
For more information on meetings, see CHF BC’s advice on meetings during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Housing co-ops are resilient communities. Their members believe in the values of honesty, openness, social responsibility and caring for others. Here are some ways we continue to demonstrate that during this crisis.