Welcoming North Arm Housing Co-operative’s First Member

  24 July 2023

  • “It’s fantastic! It was just like a firework in my life.”
    The opening of a new housing co-operative is always cause for celebration, but one person in particular is celebrating more than most.

    On June 20th, Olga Riabova was the first member to move into the new co-op at the corner of Fraser and East 19th Avenue in Vancouver. The North Arm Senior’s Housing Co-operative includes 58 homes for seniors aged 55 and up, and a partnership with the 411 Seniors Centre Society means there will soon be a seniors’ centre on the ground floor that will include a commercial kitchen, multi-purpose space and office space.

    A month after moving in and the excitement hasn’t worn off for the 63-year-old Riabova.

    “It’s fantastic!” she said. “It was just like a firework in my life.”

    Before her move to North Arm, Riabova had been living in a one-bedroom apartment in an older Metrotown building. She loved the location, but was growing concerned as the demolition of affordable, older buildings in Metrotown crept ever closer to her home.

    She had been diligently renewing her applications for non-profit and co-op housing for over 15 years and was starting to think that it would never happen.

    “I’m a single person and for a long period of time I want to at least know some people around me, say hi to them, have that feeling of community,” Riabova said. “Something had been missing in my life.”

    a woman standing next to a box in a kitchen

    That all changed when she moved into her home at North Arm.

    “The first and most important thing, is when people know each other there is a community feel about it, that was the reason why I wanted to live in a co-op,” Riabova said.

    Adding to the excitement is the home itself. To say that Riabova is thrilled with her one-bedroom unit would be an understatement.

    “It exceeded all expectation, it’s like a dream come true – in the full meaning of it,” she said. “Everything I wish to have is here, and on top of it, it is an extremely comfortable floor to walk on, absolutely non-slipper I never even thought it could be done.

    “I cannot even find something I wish to be better – even the building colour is cheerful, it’s so wonderful.”

    a building with balconies

    Since Riabova moved in four more seniors have joined her, and she’s looking forward to having the building full of neighbours and getting involved in the co-op’s committees and activities. And when the senior’s centre opens? Riabova can’t wait to tap into the opportunities to connect right in her own building – no driving needed!

    Being part of a strong community, and greeting her fellow co-op members in the hallway, has been a gift for which Riabova hadn’t dared to hope.

    “I never knew what a simple smile in the morning can create,” she said. “I can bring such a positive feeling toward the day – it’s just amazing.”