Canadian government to embark on a $500m co-op house-building spree

Ministers says 6,000 new units will be constructed under the biggest investment in co-op housing for 20 years

Canada’s federal 2022 budget includes new funding to expand the country’s co-operative housing sector, with the largest investment in new co-op housing in more than 30 years.

The budget pledges CA$500m from the National Housing Co-Investment Fund to launch a new Co-operative Housing Development Program, which will build 6,000 units – creating a new generation of co-op housing.

National sector apex, the Co-operative Housing Federation (CHF Canada), will co-design the programme with involvement from the housing co-ops.

The budget also includes the reallocation of $1bn in loans from the Rental Construction Financing Initiative to support co-op housing projects.

“For generations,” a government statement says, “co-ops have offered quality, affordable housing to Canadians, while empowering their members through inclusion, personal development, and security of tenure through their community-oriented model of housing.

“While co-ops are home to approximately a quarter of a million Canadians, not enough have been built in recent years.”

Tim Ross, executive director of (CHF Canada), said: “Today’s federal budget is a turning point, as it acknowledges the unique value of co-operative housing and commits to its expansion.

“Starting with 6,000 new homes over the next five years, we are optimistic the new Co-operative Housing Development Program will kick-start the development of the next generation of co-op housing at a scale that will help solve the housing crisis. Co-op housing is affordable, secure and enables the development of strong, inclusive communities, all of which we need more than ever.”

The federal government is also carrying out a programme of repairs, refurbishment, with climate-friendly retrofitting on existing housing co-ops.

For instance, 85 homes in Kaslo Gardens Housing Co-operative, in Richmond, British Columbia, have been given repairs including revitalised window and door openings, and new exteriors, which had begun to fail due to age and excessive moisture accumulation.

Ahmed Hussen, minister of housing and diversity and inclusion, said: “Everyone deserves a safe and affordable place to call home. For generations, co-ops have offered quality, affordable housing to Canadians, and that is why we are making sure more co-ops are built across the country, and existing ones get the repair they need.

“With today’s announcement, our government is ensuring communities like Kaslo Gardens Co-op can continue to flourish for generations to come. These types of projects also help create new jobs and stimulate the economy. This is another way that the National Housing Strategy ensures that no one is left behind.”

Meghan Humphreu, former chair of Kaslo Gardens Housing Co-op, said “Kaslo Gardens is thrilled to hear that the federal government is committed to supporting the expansion of co-op housing across Canada, as well as the renewal of existing co-op units like ours.

“We know that co-ops are a safe and affordable option where diverse communities can thrive, and we see co-ops as a central part of any meaningful solution to the housing affordability crisis in Canada. We want many more people to have access to co-op housing like Kaslo Gardens and encourage this government to boldly lead in the preservation and expansion of co-ops.”