Category: Co-op News

01 Nov 2017

Co-op Jeanneville shows how co-ops can maintain francophone culture

Cliquez ici pour lire ce billet en français.

Although it’s just off the busy Vanier Parkway, Jeanneville Co-op feels like an oasis in the city.

With 33 townhouse-style units surrounded by lush gardens, this co-op was founded to provide quality homes for francophone families from Vanier. Its founder, Michel Riel, was also president of Co-op de LaSalle, which sits on Michel Riel Private, named after him.

The spirit of la francophonie is still alive and well at Jeanneville, whose members are proud to live in a francophone environment and to be helping French language and culture thrive in Ottawa.

Léopold Lévesque, a founding member of the co-op, speaks of the particular friendly relationship that exists among francophones. Mme. Brousseau, who has been a member for 27 years, agrees, saying, “We’re at home here.”

Joelle Bernard Cloutier, of the management company Gest-Co, manages Jeanneville. “People get involved and take care of the co-op,” she says, “It’s a family atmosphere.” She adds that members at Jeanneville see a future in their co-op and the co-op movement, and are engaged in finding long-term solutions to protect co-op housing.

The co-op has recently undertaking refinancing, and will be starting work in spring 2018 on replacing siding and insulation in its units, and doing electrical and plumbing work. It’s a logical step for a co-op where members take a clear pride in maintaining their homes and the co-op grounds.

Jeanneville received funding through CHF Canada’s Greener Co-op Microgrant program. This allowed the co-op to install rain barrels that keep its gardens looking great in a sustainable way.

Co-op members also demonstrate concern for their community. For example, co-op president Louise Joa mentioned having recently organized a linen drive for Edgewood Care Centre, a nearby residential care facility for people with mental and physical challenges.

Co-operative values animate life at Jeanneville. As Mme. Brousseau puts it, “We work well together, and take care of one another.”

11 Oct 2017

Homestarts seeks Co-op Housing Co-ordinator

Homestarts Incorporated is looking for Co-ordinator to manage the day-to-day tasks at one or more Co-operative Housing properties) in Ottawa.  The position is full-time (5 days/37.5 hours per week).   Occasional evening or weekend work will be required in the position to attend Board, Committee and Members meetings.

Education required

  • University degree or an equivalent combination of education and experience.

Experience required

  • Minimum three years’ experience in non-profit or co-op housing, social services or related field
  • Extensive customer service
  • Previous experience working with a volunteer board of directors

The successful applicant will be

  • able to work independently , while working with a team
  • effective at prioritizing tasks and handling stress in an extremely busy environment
  • proficient with Word, Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint; familiar with NewViews / NVNPH, HMWorx
  • knowledgeable about housing policy and the associated regulatory environment
  • bilingual – oral and written – English/French

Someone with no experience in co-op or non-profit housing may be considered provided they have the relevant, transferable skills and a compatible work/educational background.

Homestarts provides a comprehensive compensation package, tiered to reflect length of employment, including group benefits after 3 months, 3 weeks’ vacation to start and RRSP contribution after 1 year.

Homestarts is committed to accommodating applicants with disabilities throughout the hiring process, in accordance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).  Human Resources will work with applicants requesting accommodation at any state of the hiring process.

WE THANK ALL APPLICANTS, HOWEVER, ONLY THOSE CHOSEN FOR AN INTERVIEW WILL BE CONTACTED.

Please submit your resume and cover letter to by email only to: hr@homestarts.org by October 31, 2017.

Please note Job #312 in your subject line

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.

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