From Audacity to Legacy: Honoring 40 Years of COHO Management

  5 June 2024

  • COHO has had a remarkable journey from its audacious beginnings to becoming a leader in co-op housing management.
    On May 29, 2024, over one hundred past and present staff, board members, clients, and supporters gathered at the elegant Terminal City Club in downtown Vancouver to celebrate COHO Management Service Society’s 40th anniversary.

    CHF BC (and COHO) CEO Thom Armstrong emceed the short—but impactful—program. Attendees heard from COHO’s Executive Director Halina Kuras, CHF BC’s president Suzanne Zimmering. Catherine Porter, a former CHF BC president and member of long-time COHO client Pine Ridge Housing Co-operative also said a few words. COHO’s first president David Lach, founding director Merrilee Robson, and CHF Canada’s president Cassia Kantrow were among the honored guests.

    After the speeches, attendees spent the evening sampling fine food and beverages while enjoying great company.

    Audacious Beginnings

    COHO was established as a non-profit co-operative management company in 1984 to meet the specific needs of co-op housing management that existing property management companies were not addressing.

    At that time, CHF BC was only two years old and still finding its way as a newly minted regional federation of housing co-operatives. What we lacked in experience was more than compensated by visionary leaders unconstrained by what others thought was possible or realistic. One thing they knew was that the intrepid housing co-ops, which took the leap of starting their own federation, deserved the best services. This included co-op-specific management services delivered by a company they owned and controlled.


    COHO’s Vision

    COHO’s vision of sector-owned and operated co-op-specific management services may have been audacious, but it proved to be prophetic. As COHO celebrates its 40th anniversary, it now serves ninety clients, over forty percent of BC’s non-profit housing co-operatives. These clients trust COHO to offer a full range of financial, corporate, maintenance, and inspection services.


    Responsive to Housing Co-op Needs

    CHF BC created COHO to provide housing co-ops in BC with the gold standard in management services. To ensure it continues to meet this lofty goal, the board of directors of CHF BC oversees its governance.

    COHO tailors its services to meet each client’s unique needs. As the needs of housing co-ops changed over the years, it adapted existing services and added new ones. An example of this responsiveness is the development of co-op maintenance services. As co-ops aged, COHO stepped up to address the maintenance issues its clients were experiencing.

    Today, COHO offers everything from handyperson services to procurement and project management of larger endeavors. Certified building inspectors are also a key part of COHO’s services, helping pave the way for major capital investments and co-op renewal.


    Keeping the Bottom Line in Mind

    Executive Director Halina Kuras emphasizes that financial services are a key part of COHO’s work. Co-op boards and members need to understand how their co-op manages its revenue and expenses.

    By reducing the uncertainties of property management for governments and co-op lenders, professional property management companies like COHO are crucial to the expansion of Canada’s co-op housing. As a result of COHO’s leadership, CLT and other companies throughout BC and across Canada offer similar co-op-specific management services.


    A Positive Place to Work and Grow

    Part of COHO’s success lies in providing positive workplaces that attract people to careers in co-op housing management. Staff enjoy working for a community-based organization with management committed to providing an environment that values both personal and professional growth.


    Looking Forward

    COHO has had a remarkable journey from its audacious beginnings to becoming a leader in co-op housing management. Its 40th anniversary is a testament to the visionary leadership, dedicated staff, and ongoing commitment to serving the unique needs of housing co-operatives.

    Looking ahead, COHO remains steadfast in its mission to provide the gold standard in co-op management services. It is committed to meeting evolving challenges and supporting the growth and sustainability of non-profit housing co-ops. Here’s to many more decades of success, innovation, and positive impact in the co-operative housing community.



    Stay Connected!

    Learn more about COHO and their services in the inaugural edition of COHO Connection [PDF]. This bi-annual newsletter serves as a bridge between management and commu­nity, ensuring you stay informed, engaged, and connected. Each issue will showcase a mix of expert knowledge, COHO updates, sector news, and relevant events tailored to the co-operative housing community.