Category: Co-op News

10 Oct 2017

Co-op Voisins shows how to engage a diverse, bilingual membership

Nestled in a leafy corner of Sandy Hill, the 76 units at Co-op Voisins are home to a diverse array of families, single people, and seniors, from many different backgrounds. The co-op recently marked its 25th anniversary with a big celebration.

Voisins is one of six Ottawa co-ops that are officially bilingual. This creates both opportunities and challenges for the co-op and its members.

Karine Lachapelle is the co-op’s current Vice-President. Volunteering to help translate the co-op’s newsletter helped her realize that she has a knack for translation. Since she’s now working on a degree in translation, she calls joining the co-op “a life-changing experience”.

The co-op has many other ways for its members to get involved.

Like many co-ops, Voisins has a member selection committee, a member orientation committee, and a social committee, which is very active throughout the year, organizing events such as holiday parties, movie nights, and even March Break activities for kids. Its Garden Committee stays busy taking care of the co-op’s beautiful grounds. However, the co-op also has some other interesting committees:

  • The Parking Committee monitors the visitor parking to make sure everyone has a parking pass.
  • A Library Committee maintains a lending library in the co-op.
  • In the event of an emergency, the co-op’s Emergency Response Team is a committee that helps make sure other members are safe.
  • The co-op is now starting a Wellness Committee, with activities like painting, to encourage members to get to know each other and resolve their conflicts and difficulties together.

 

CHASEO Executive Director Céline Carrière with Esther Sepahi of Voisins’ at the co-op’s anniversary celebration.

The co-op has succeeded in creating a culture of engagement among its members. As founding member Jeff puts it, “If I get asked to do something, and if I can do it, I’ll do it.”

What is the secret to Voisins’ success in engaging its membership? When its member orientation committee gives an orientation session to new members, it focuses on opportunities for getting involved, while gifting new members with a houseplant for their new home.

Once they’ve settled in, long-time member and active volunteer Ester Sepahi cold-calls new members and asks them for help with counting the laundry coins. While they’re doing that, she finds out what their interests are and explains other volunteering opportunities to them. This helps put new members on a path to engagement and connection with fellow members.

As Ann, another of the co-op’s founding members puts it, “I’ve grown with the co-op, I’ve seen births, deaths, generations growing up. People help each other out.”

Building that type of diverse, resilient community takes effort, but Co-op Voisins shows that that work pays off.

05 Sep 2017

Alex Laidlaw Co-op shows you can be generous and still balance your books

This article is part of a series by CHASEO spotlighting some of our member co-ops and showing the diversity of Eastern Ontario’s co-ops.

The Alex Laidlaw Housing Co-operative is a 36-unit co-op near LeBreton Flats.

The co-op’s name comes from Dr. Alex Laidlaw, a leader in the Canadian co-operative movement. It’s more than just a name: this co-op has a deep connection to co-operative values.

The co-op demonstrated its values last year, when its members decided to offer a home to a refugee family, and reduce the housing charges to a level the family could afford. Odai Waheeb and Ruaa Abbas moved into the co-op in the summer of 2016.

Waheeb spoke warmly of his neighbours: “The community in the coop was a small picture that reflects the bigger one in Canada, same example of cooperation, love, and forgiveness.” Co-op members also helped the family move in, donated furniture, and shared advice and information.

The co-op’s generosity hasn’t gotten in the way of its financial responsibility. In 2016, as the co-op was welcoming and supporting its new refugee members, it also won CHASEO’s Geoff Robbins Award for Financial Excellence.

Robin Shaban was the co-op’s treasurer at the time. She connects the co-op’s financial success to its sense of community. She finds that when members get together for events like the co-op’s annual Clean-Up Day, and when their kids play together, it builds a sense of community, a shared vision, and a desire to protect the co-op and steward its resources.

The process of starting the co-op began in 1978, as part of the LeBreton Flats Demonstration Project. This project brought the National Capital Commission (NCC), the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), and the City of Ottawa together in an attempt to build housing that responded to the community’s needs and used innovative methods for environmental sustainability.

Construction on the co-op began in 1980, supported both by $1.7 million in CMHC funding, and by the work of co-op members who participated in planning and designing the units.

In a 1981 Ottawa Citizen article quoted on the co-op’s website, one founding member, Tom Haley, said, “It was a tremendous [amount of] work and we had really help each other out. But it drew us into a community… This co-op is similar to the old communities where everyone knew everyone and would stop to say good day and have a chat.”

It’s clear that the hard work and generosity of this co-op’s members are keeping that spirit alive today.

Notes:
• Information on the co-op’s history came from its website.
• Information on the LeBreton Flats Demonstration Project came from Cities and Natural Process: A Basis for Sustainability, by Michael Hough.
• Thank you to members Odai Waheeb and Robin Shaban for taking the time to talk about their co-op.

09 May 2017

Congratulations to our Award Winners

We had a great day of learning and fun at our Spring Congress. Click here for some photos from the event!

Congratulations to our award and scholarship winners:

  • Diversity Scholarship: Celeste Cassidy, The Shefford Heritage Housing Co-op
  • John & Susan McLean Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Co-operative Movement: Janice and David Burroughs, Westboro Housing Co-op
  • Geoff Robbins Award for Financial Excellence: Eileen Tallman Co-operative Homes of Ottawa-Carleton
08 Feb 2017

Nominations open for CHASEO awards!

Nominations are now open for CHASEO’s two awards:

  1. Annual Geoff Robbins Award for Financial Management Excellence

This prize is awarded annually to an Ottawa area co-op that shows good financial management. Co-ops are judged on arrears, vacancies, budget & financial records.

Geoff Robbins was a long-time activist and volunteer in Ottawa’s co-op housing community. A member of Daly Co-op, he served as CHASEO’s treasurer until his death in November 2005.

 

  1. John and Susan McLean Award for Outstanding Community Involvement

Each year, CHASEO honors an individual who has demonstrated outstanding service to the local co-op housing sector. Nominees can be involved in their co-op or the broader co-op housing movement. Nominate an outstanding volunteer from your co-op!  John & Susan McLean were long-term members of Sawmill Creek and were active in the Ottawa co-operative movement.

For nomination forms, please email info@chaseo.coop.

Please submit your nominations by March 14th, 2017.

All awards will be presented at the Annual General Meeting.

Close
loading...