Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada

CHF Canada Annual Report 2018

Co-op Housing for All


Committed to a Shared Vision


Dear Friends,

We have been very busy setting in motion the agenda you chose for Canada’s co-op housing movement last year. And we couldn’t be happier, because it is truly an excellent set of goals!

Last year at CHF Canada’s 50th annual meeting in Victoria, BC, you endorsed a shared vision for the future of Canada’s co-op housing movement under the banner of “Co-op Housing for All”.   

Read the full letter from our President and Executive Director…


Success in the Vision will achieve:

A co-operative housing movement that actively integrates the co-operative identity into everything we do.

Ongoing and significant development which will increase the availability and sustainability of co-operative housing in Canada.

A common culture of strategy, renewal and growth among our movement’s members, leaders, and supporting organizations.

A network of active partnerships and collaboration among all stakeholders in the co-op housing movement.

A widespread and influential presence of diverse, resilient co-op housing communities throughout Canada.

- From the Vision Framework, adopted by members at the 2018 Annual Meeting



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In 2018, CHF Canada celebrated our 50th anniversary. We shared memories from a half century of co-operation with members on social media and at our Annual Meeting in Victoria.

When we asked members what they hope to see in the next 50 years of the co-op housing movement, answers ranged from “shorter waiting lists to get in” to “underwater co-ops” and “space co-ops”!


Protecting co-op housing


“My co-op means the world to me. Living here has brought so much richness and diversity to our lives. I’m proud that we fought to protect our co-op neighbours who wouldn’t be able to live here without a subsidy.”

Denese Gascho, Grace MacInnis Co-op

In 2018, with member support CHF Canada secured continued assistance to low-income households in federally administered coops to 2020. 

We worked with government to finalize details of the second phase of renewed assistance, so that 20,000 co-op households will continue to receive subsidies until 2028 through the National Housing Strategy.   

CHF Canada also advocated for coops with provincially-administered agreements for the continuation of their subsidies, and for the re-enrolment of coops in BC, Alberta, Ontario and Prince Edward Island whose operating agreements expired before April 2016.


A Shared Vision of Co-op Housing for All


In 2016 and 2017, AGM resolutions called on CHF Canada and regional federations to discuss the future of the co-op housing movement in Canada.

In February 2018, co-op leaders from across the country came together at a two-day summit. They shared, listened and identified major issues, themes and future aspirations to shape a new Vision for the Future of the Co-operative Housing Movement in Canada which members endorsed at CHF Canada’s 50th Annual Meeting.


Kickstarting a Co-op Growth agenda


At the 2018 AGM, members passed resolutions establishing growth as a key focus and committing $1 million from CHF Canada’s endowment funds.

We hired Melissa Estable (Manager, Co-op Housing Development) to explore how to best support co-op development across Canada.

Some strategies we are pursuing include:

  • Helping co-ops see if they are ready to build more units

  • Promoting Community Land Trusts

  • Helping co-ops access government programs

  • Connecting with other organizations to work together 


Elections in Ontario

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Your voices came through loud and clear in the Ontario provincial election, and then again in the municipal elections:

  • We partnered with ONPHA to produce An Affordable Housing Plan for Ontario, which was covered by the Toronto Star, and led to CHF Canada’s Simone Swail appearing on TVO’s The Agenda

  • Our Open the Door to Co-op Housing website got 14,000 views in 2018.

  • We helped 15 co-ops host Meet the Candidates events

  • We sent brochures and posters to all member co-ops in Ontario

The provincial election resulted in a change in government with 60% of MPPs new to Queen’s Park. We arranged meetings and co-op tours to build relationships with cabinet members and MPPs. We introduced them to the co-op housing model, highlighting the important role co-ops play in Ontario’s communities.

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“Thanks to support from our members and partners, we staged two successful campaigns in 2018 highlighting the need for affordable housing in Ontario. We will continue to work with provincial and municipal governments to ensure that the potential of co-op housing is fully realized to help meet the need for secure, affordable, community-oriented housing.”

Allison Chase, CHF Canada Ontario Council President




Asset Management and Financial Planning


“We wouldn’t have made it through the door at a financial institution on our own. CHF Canada made sure that we could talk to the credit union in a way that they understood, and handled a ton of paperwork.”

Colin Tomlins, Ramsay Heights Housing Co-op, Calgary, Alberta

CHF Canada’s Asset Management and Financial Planning Services help housing co-ops assess their needs and put long-term plans in place to ensure their future viability.

In 2018, with CHF Canada’s help, 24 co-ops procured building condition assessments, 26 co-ops completed asset management plans and nine co-ops accessed project management services in partnership with Housing Services Corporation. Through CHF Canada’s Financial Planning Services, four co-ops borrowed more than$16 million to renovate and modernize, making housing co-ops safer, more accessible and more welcoming. Since 2013, we have helped 33 member co-ops acquire over $96 million in loans.


Insurance & Risk Management


Through our insurance partner, The Co-operators, CHF Canada continued to ensure that member co-ops could rely on cost-effective insurance customized for their needs, including commercial insurance for the entire co-op and MemberGuard contents insurance for individual members. 

In 2018, CHF Canada launched a Risk Management Program providing simple yet effective resources and checklists to identify and reduce common household risks. Information was sent to all co-ops in CHF Canada’s commercial insurance program. In total, 184 co-ops representing 6,688 units completed the checklists. Of the completed checklists, 39% identified at least one serious risk. We hope and expect that this initiative will result in fewer accidents, leading to fewer claims, and better rates!


“I see that they have promptly put up the posters a couple weeks ago, very nice, large, clear, and eye-catchingly colourful!...I know firsthand that multiple residents have taken steps to address potential risks, so this is excellent!”

Member of a housing co-op participating in CHF Canada’s Risk Management Program


Education & Advice


New resources in 2018:

• LGBT2SQ Inclusive Communities

• Good Member Services Charter

• Directors in Arrears

• Smoke-Free Bylaw (Ontario)

• Duty to Accommodate Guide

• A Guide to Indigenous Land Acknowledgements

• UN Sustainability Goals

In 2018, CHF Canada continued to offer opportunities for co-op boards, managers and members to learn key skills and share ideas about important issues.

Through customized, regional and national workshops, online courses and resources, CHF Canada supported members with the latest information, training and advice on good member service and sound management, long-term financial and asset management plans, changes to provincial/territorial legislation, accommodating members’ needs and understanding human rights, international sustainability goals, and inclusive co-op communities.

CHF Canada helped many member co-ops work with program regulators and Ontario’s municipal service managers. They also helped co-ops to access funding and information on sustainability and energy saving.


Member Service in All Regions


In 2018, CHF Canada continued to provide services to co-ops in every province and territory. This is especially vital for co-ops in regions without a provincial or local co-op housing federation or association. 


In Ontario, staff worked behind the scenes to raise awareness about the End of Mortgage (EOM) issue for co-ops governed by the Housing Services Act(HSA). As co-ops reach their EOM, a funding formula problem could put the future of these co-ops at risk.  We commissioned a study to demonstrate the impact. Staff brought the study results to Ministry staff and municipalities to make the case for a solution. A workshop was also developed to help co-ops prepare for EOM.

In Nova Scotia, the SHARP program funded by Housing Nova Scotia from until 2018 has been a very important part of capital replacements and renewal for housing co-ops in this province. Since 2009, CHF Canada has partnered with Housing Nova Scotia help co-ops access over $25 million in funding benefiting 44 member co-ops

In Manitoba, Old Grace Housing Co-op in Winnipeg transitioned from being in development to becoming a fully-occupied member co-op of CHF Canada.  Old Grace is a multi-generational, mixed income co-operative that has expanded the potential of the co-op model.


Diversity & Inclusion


The workshop series on reconciliation, held by Kaslo Co-op in Vancouver was one of the three projects funded by our Regional Diversity Grants this year.

We also continued to promote inclusive co-op communities by introducing new and updated resources on Indigenous land acknowledgements and on welcoming LGBT2SQ co-op members. 




To accomplish the Vision Framework objective of Co-op Housing Sustainability we initiated several consultations projects to gauge members’ needs and preferences.  

The first of these was a survey and focus group on CHF Canada events. The second is a comprehensive member service survey planned for spring 2019.

At our 2018 AGM, we recognized four co-ops that have been loyal CHF Canada members for 40 years, 45 30-year members and 21 20-year members. 

In 2018, eight housing co-ops, seven associates and seven individuals became members of CHF Canada, bringing the total up to 904 housing co-ops and 136 associate and individual members.


Awards, Grants & Scholarships


Co-op Identity and Excellence

Bain Honour Canoe


At Toronto’s Bain Housing Co-op, a conversation between neighbours in the co-op’s laundry room sparked a community art project about reconciliation.

The Bain Honour Canoe project was the 2018 winner of our Award for Outstanding Contribution to Co-op Housing. Our Award for Outstanding Contribution to Co-operative Housing went to CHF BC’s Community Land Trust for their work to preserve and expand affordable housing in Vancouver.


Management Scholarships


CHF Canada’s Management Scholarship program was launched five years ago to promote the continuous development of excellence in co-op housing management.  

In 2018, we awarded management scholarships to Jennifer Smiros, Swelena Nwaoro and Vita Isherwood.


Environmental Stewardship – Microgrants 

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We gave out $33,136 to 9 co-ops through our Greener Co-op Microgrants program.

This program allowed co-ops to make sustainability upgrades that resulted in huge cost and energy savings.




Financials at December 31, 2018


Total Assets


Operating Revenues


Operating Expenses



Operating Fund Balance




Total Reserves


Endowment Funds



Board, Council and Committees


CHF Canada is not just dedicated to serving housing co-ops; it is also governed by and accountable to them.

Elected representatives who serve on the Federation’s Board of Directors, Ontario Council and committees serve a crucial role in our success.  

In 2018, there were new presidents of both the Board (Frank Wheeler) and Council (Allison Chase) contributing fresh perspectives to represent our diverse and changing movement.




CHF Canada benefits from a dedicated group of staff serving members from offices across Canada.

Many of our people are leading talents in their fields such as education, advocacy and communications. 

In 2018, CHF Canada reviewed our staffing structure and strategic plan in the context of the new Vision Framework adopt by the sector. This led to changes to organizational structure, job titles and position descriptions in order to be more effective and focused on the Vision Pillars of Sustainability, Identity and Growth. 

Courtney Lockhart

Courtney Lockhart

New: Scott Parry, Barbara Szymanska, Melissa Estable, Patricia Tessier, (Courtney Lockhart, March 2019)   

Departing: Karla Skoutajan, Jacob Larocque-Graham, Tina Sinkia, Diana Devlin, Doug Wong