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The Co-op Difference

Today, a new report comparing housing charges (rents) in co-op housing with rents in similar private market rental buildings was released. It looked at Vancouver, Victoria, Edmonton, Toronto and Ottawa between 2006 and 2021.

The report shows that rent trends in non-profit co-op housing differs dramatically from that of the private rental sector, where rents have increased nationally by 11 percent in the last year alone.

The report found that housing charges (rents) in co-ops have been consistently lower than rents in comparable buildings in the private market, and that the gap has widened over time.  While in the early years, the co-op housing costs were, on average, $150-$200 less per month than similar market rental buildings, this gap widened to upwards of $400 to $500 per month in the later years in all cities, except Edmonton.

“Of course, co-ops benefitted from public investment which supported their construction and operation in their early years” said Tim Ross, Executive Director of the Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada. “But the long-term payoff of that investment is clear. We now have permanently affordable co-ops across the country that enable people to put healthy food on the table and save for their children’s education, along with living securely.


Clash over Cash for New Rent Supplement

Alberta is pushing back against the Trudeau Liberals’ expectation that provinces and territories pick up half the cost of a new rent supplement, asking instead to substitute federal funding for their own.

The promised supplement was originally proposed as a joint funding venture between the federal and provincial governments.

But in negotiations over the funding arrangement, Alberta officials have sought to have their existing spending count towards the cost-matching approach instead of increasing funding as other provinces have said they would.

The details of the behind-the-scenes talks were provided to The Canadian Press by multiple people with knowledge of the talks who spoke on condition of anonymity, either because they weren’t authorized to publicly discuss federal work, or to ensure relationships with governments and agencies weren’t compromised.

What has housing advocates concerned is that the new supplement may have limited effects if spending doesn’t increase as originally envisioned.

A spokeswoman for Alberta’s housing minister says the province hopes to finalize a funding arrangement with Ottawa to streamline provincial rental assistance programs.

Please visit Global News to read more of the article.


Press, J. (2019, December 19). Alberta, Feds set to clash over cash for new rent supplement. The Canadian Press.

Rent Supplement Program Freeze


With two rent supplement programs currently under review by the provincial government, an Alberta woman hoping to be on the waitlist for one of them says she is frustrated.

Deirdre St. Luke receives benefits through the Assured Income for the Severely Handicapped program (AISH) and told Global News she put herself on a waitlist for a rent supplement program years ago in an effort to improve her living situation.

But St. Luke said shortly before the new year, the provincial government told her some disappointing news.

“They said basically there is no list,” she said. “Everybody’s been cut off.

“They’re saying, ‘We’re only doing this so we can review the program.’ Come on, do I have ‘stupid’ tattooed on my forehead?”

Please visit Global News to read more of the article.


Heindenreich, P. (2020, January 20). Alberta woman frustrated to learn provincial review means she is not on rent supplement program waitlist. Global News.

Community Generation Incubator



Is your co-op thinking about starting a Community Generation project?

This ACCA free 2-day event will give your co-op a rough and ready idea of project feasibilty

If your co-op is interested, please visit the Community Generation Incubator website or review the Community Generation Incubator PDF to learn more about the program.

To register, please contact Robert Henry or Seth Leon:

Robert J. Henry PEng MBA
Program Specialist
Peters Energy Solutions Inc.
PH: 403-813-4573

Seth Leon MDE
Manager of Co-operative Services
Alberta Community and Co-operative Association (ACCA)
PH: 587-216-2144

During the registeration you can also apply for a Project Candidate Assessment and Development Coaching Call. This initial consultation will be used to identify project possibilities and key data to qualify the opportunity, identify fatal flaws, and determine project potential at a qualitative level.

Feds Extend Subsidies to March 2028

The federal government announced on June 25, that they have extended subsidies to March 31, 2028 as part of their plan to protect affordable housing for low-income co-op households. The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development made the announcement at the Briarview Housing Co-op in Mississauga, ON.

The extension is the second phase of the Federal Community Housing Initiative that was announced as part of the National Housing Strategy in November 2017. All co-op households that are currently receiving financial assistance will continue to receive the same level of assistance until March 2028

We would like to thank CHF Canada and all the co-op members for their hard work and persistence. Our members hold the key to our future and we have to continue make our voice heard. This is a great step in protecting affordable housing and a time to celebrate. We also have work to do as 2028 is not that far away and we need a more permanent solution.

Ayanna Inniss, NACHA Executive Director

The announcement is a great start but we need additional information on how the new agreement works. Are their any changes, what do we need to do to ensure that each co-op has been extended etc. As a result, we will continue to obtain and share the information with you.  

CHF Canada’s news release indicate that “enrollment” will begin in the fall. So please stay tuned and we will provide you with updates via the NACHA website.  

CMHC Funding Opportunities

Housing Co-operatives come in many forms, and CMHC offers a variety of programs and resources to support the diverse needs of Co-ops across the country.

By taking the lead role in the delivery of Canada’s first-ever National Housing Strategy, CMHC administers a number of funding programs to assist Co-ops in undertaking long-term operating and maintenance planning, repair & renewal projects, as well as new construction activities supporting the expansion or development of Housing Co-operatives across Canada.

Further, as Canada’s authority on housing, CMHC’s resource library includes information on a wide range of topics including:

  • Co-operative & Membership roles and responsibilities;
  • Provincial and Territorial regulations;
  • rent/fee collection; and 
  • administrative/maintenance practices.

We are encouraging your co-op to take advantage of the various CMHC Housing Solutions such as the Preservation Funding for Community Housing, Seed Funding (for co-ops out of their operating agreement) and the National Housing Co-Investment Fund. We would love to see all 34 co-ops take advantage of the funding opportunities to help improve our housing co-op structure.

There are a variety of studies that you can apply for. Ten co-ops have already been approved and have received approximately $217,000 to conduct studies such as Energy Audits, Refinancing Analysis, Asset Management Plan, Building Foundation etc. Once their studies have been completed, these co-ops will be in a position to apply for the Co-investment Fund and obtain further funding to improve the condition and life of their housing co-op buildings, which will translate to better member satisfaction.

Don’t let this funding opportunity pass you by! NACHA and the Agency are available to help you navigate the requirements. You can also contact Kyle Taylor of Casa Housing Services (587-487-4397) if your co-op is interested in making an application for one of the CMHC Housing Solutions.   

National Resources Canada Invests in Energy Efficiency with Sundance

By Gillian Austin

On May 24 the Honourable Amarjeet Sohi, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources was at Sundance Housing Cooperative to announce a federal investment of $2.5 million for Sundance to retrofit 59 townhomes. This retrofit will allow the units to be net-zero ready.

“The membership of Sundance Housing Co-operative is extremely pleased to be partnering with NRCan on this project. Not only will this project provide the members long term, energy savings with better comfort and indoor air quality, it will also be a working example for deep-energy retrofits that hopefully will accelerate the uptake of such retrofits across the country.”

Beth Nilsen President, Sundance

Natural Resources Canada is funding the project through its Energy Innovation Program (EIP), which supports initiatives to accelerate clean technology development. The project is also part of Canada’s $180-billion Investing in Canada Infrastructure Plan.

The Sundance retrofit will focus on installing new, energy-efficient exterior wall panels, which will be designed and fabricated off-site by using digital imaging. The panels will be installed over the existing exterior walls, thus requiring no demolition and allowing the work to be done quickly and with less disruption to occupants.

This retrofit project aims to accelerate the uptake of panelized prefabricated deep energy retrofits across North America — cutting costs and reducing pollution.

Sundance’s Deep Energy Retrofit (DER) involves the retrofit of a building enclosure and other building systems in a way that results in high performance buildings and also provides benefits to building durability, comfort, and indoor air quality. The proposed DER will create a high performance envelope with a high degree of air-tightness and significantly enhanced insulation values. The end result will have an expected reduction in energy use of 70-80%, using a strategy of re-cladding the exterior of the building (typically walls, foundations and roof) with a new continuous moisture/air barrier which dramatically reduces the air leakage rates, exterior applied thermally broken insulation layers and a rain-screen finish detail. The DER includes the addition of Heat Recovery Ventilators to ensure healthy indoor air quality once the air leakage rate of the building is lowered.

The work is being done by Butterwick Projects Ltd. The project will be done in two Phases. Phase 1 (research and development phase) will focus on units 8 & 9. The work on this Phase started in March will be completed this spring. Between the completion of this work and the fall of 2019, the design and development team will test the performance of the building envelope, assess the results and modify the approach a required. Work should start on Phase 2 (balance of the 57 units) in October of 2019 and be completed by the spring of 2020.

Sundance’s first homes were occupied in 1979. Nearly 40% of our members have lived in Sundance for more than 20 years! We are inspired by a vision of sensible and affordable housing, environmental responsibility and a nurturing community for our members. We are a strong and financially secure community. As we approach our fifth decade, we are excited to see this retrofit project take place.


Chainsaw Retrofit Examples

An animation of a “chainsaw retrofit.” A method of deep-energy retrofitting small buildings to the Passive House standard. Rob Harrison cPHc

Vilogia Timelapse Energiesprong 2018

National Housing Strategy Update

On May 8, CMHC hosted a free event to educate our housing co-ops members on how to navigate the National Housing Strategy and its components.  CMHC and the Agency presented information to help housing co-op members develop a better understanding of how to apply for grants to repair and maintain the units.  This was a great opportunity as those in attendance learned about the:


Ecofitt – Energy Efficiency Solutions

Your co-op is eligible to receive free energy efficiency upgrades through Energy Efficiency Alberta’s (EEA) Affordable Housing Energy Solutions Program! The goal of the program is to lower utility costs and increase Alberta’s energy efficiency! All upgrades are optional to the members living in the household so you can choose what works best for you. This is mainly an opportunity to take advantage of money put aside by the government to help Albertans make the switch to more energy efficient living.

Eligible upgrades include:

  • LED lightbulbs and night lights
  • smart thermostats
  • smart power bars
  • high-efficiency shower heads
  • faucet aerators
  • block heater timers


ACCA Youth Leadership Camp

ACCA’s Co-operative Youth Leadership Program provides an opportunity for your children to develop their leadership and teamwork skills. It is designed to give them the independence and confidence in their abilities while creating lasting friendships.

The 7-day programs take place at the Goldeye Centre, located near Nordegg, Alberta. The beautiful remote setting provides the perfect environment for your children to build friendships, discover hidden talents, learn new skills, gain a positive view of the world, and contribute to their future.



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