Category: Co-op News

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.

01 Feb 2017

Can my co-op stop members from renting their units on Airbnb?

The website Airbnb, which allows people to rent out their home, room, or couch, on a short-term basis, has been criticized for cutting into cities’ already short supply of affordable housing.  Others are simply concerned that their neighbours may be allowing strangers into their building.

Is it possible for your co-op’s bylaws to protect against members renting out their homes on Airbnb or similar services?

Our template bylaw does address Airbnb style rentals in a way that should provide enough protection for the co-op, but you could strengthen these areas to meet your needs.

Note, it doesn’t fall under Article 8: “Members’ Households and Guests”, but rather under Article 6: “Use of Units”.

Here are a few examples of the protections included in the template bylaw:

6.2 Principal Residence
Each member must use the member’s co-op unit as the member’s principal residence and personally occupy it.
[This protects the co-op from an individual renting the unit for the sole purpose of renting it out]

6.3 (b) No rooming or boarding houses
Related uses do not include using a unit as a rooming house, or boarding house, or providing food or lodging for others or renting space or anything similar. Those uses are prohibited except for sub-occupancy and sharing permitted under this By-law.
[This is where the co-op could specify that members cannot offer their unit in an online based rental, à la Airbnb: we would encourage the co-op to refer to the rental act, and not specifically the name, so that if other such services pop up you don’t have to name them specifically]

6.5 No Profit from Unit
(a) When leaving co-op
Members must not profit, directly or indirectly, when they leave the co-op.
(b) Sub-occupancy or sharing
Members must not profit, directly or indirectly, when they allow others to use their unit. This includes sub-occupancy of the unit when the member is away or any sharing arrangement.
(c) Examples
Examples of profit are key money and placing too great a value on the furnishings of a unit. Profit does not include guests or sub-occupants paying their fair share of the housing charges and other household costs if it is not a hidden profit on the housing charges.
[This clause protects the co-op from members profiting from sub-letting their unit through Airbnb and the like. Again, you could include and example in these areas to strengthen the co-op’s position]

If your co-op would like help with your bylaws, please contact CHASEO, we are glad to assign a contractor to assist.

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