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WHAT IS A CO-OP?

A co-op is a co-operative housing community where people work together to maintain affordable housing and govern their own environment.  A greater sense of community is developed through co-op members participation.  Residents are selected through a membership interview process.

WHERE DO WE COME FROM?

The co-operative movement dates back to the early 19th Century when a group of English weavers (the Honourable Society of Weavers of Rochdale) got together and developed some sound business concepts to work from them as a group.

Although primarily a business organization to help the poor, the Rochdale group recognized the need to provide housing for the group's members as well.  Thus, housing became and important focus in addition to the business opportunities developed by the group.

The co-op principles and the aims of Canadian housing co-op offer the vision of co-operation that guides the members of every housing co-op in Canada.  The on-going job of co-op boards is to make sure that these principles and aims are front and centre in all the decisions they make.

The following basic principles are adhered to by co-ops of all types which belongs to the International Co-operative Alliance:

  1. Open Membership: Co-op membership is open to everyone who needs the services of the co-op and who accepts the responsibilities of membership.  The board of directors must not discriminate against anyone and must respect human rights.
  2. Democratic Control: Members control their co-op.  Together they set by-laws and policies, make decisions and elect leaders who report to them.  Each member of a co-op has one vote.  All members have an equal say in managing their co-op.
  3. Economic Participation:  All members contribute fairly to the co-op which they own in common.  Co-ops pay a limited return (if any) on money that people paid to become members.  The co-op holds any surplus for the future or uses it improve the co-ops services.
  4. Independence:  All agreements that co-ops sign with outside organizations or governments should leave the members in control of their co-op.
  5. Co-operative Education:  Every co-op is responsible for offering training to its members, directors and staff.  Co-ops should also tell the public what they are and what they do.
  6. Co-operation Among Co-operatives:  Co-ops work together to serve their members through local, national and international structures.
  7. Community:  Co-ops meet members' needs in ways that build lasting communities inside and outside each co-op.