The Cooperative Housing Federation of Canada is a formal entity, representing the Canadian co-operative housing movement. Cooperatives can be formed regarding anything, food, credit, daycare, labor and housing. Housing co-ops facilitate their members when it comes to affordable housing and decisions related to their homes. If you are a member of a housing cooperative, you get to speak in matters that concern your property. Given the facilities and convenience that cooperative housing brings, it is no surprise that there are more than 260 housing cooperatives in British Columbia alone. Individuals in a cooperative don’t own property, and all the houses that come under the cooperative are commonly owned by all the members. It is a democratic setup, where a Board of Directors is elected, communities are formed, polices are drafted and budgets are approved.
The Cooperative Housing Federation of Canada gives membership to housing co-ops mainly, and is a body that represents cooperative housing in Canada. The CHF has offices in Ottawa, Toronto, Vancouver, Winnipeg, Halifax and London. CHF’s Board of Directors is comprised of 16 members currently, 10 from the provinces and territories, 1 from the Aboriginal community and 5 other elected members. Some provinces and territories are combined for elections, such as Quebec and Nunavut and Alberta and Northwest territories. Representation from each region ensures that none is ignored and local people can represent their regions in the federation.
All Directors have 2-year tenures, and half of the Board is elected every year. Board meetings are held four times every year (at least), and Ottawa hosts three of them. The Board is responsible for ensuring the prosperity and security of CHF, advising members, taking recommendations and leading the co-op housing movement. CHF’s annual budget in 2009 amounted to roughly $4.2 million, and the membership dues form the main source of revenue.
CHF membership is for housing co-operatives and their associations, service organizations (resource groups and management companies), sponsoring organizations (Credit Union Central of Ontario, Canadian Labour Congress, Co-operative Trust Company, Public Service Alliance of Canada, The Co-operators Group and VanCity Savings Credit Union) and Honorary Lifetime Associates (individuals with significant contribution to the CHF, who are allowed to speak at annual meetings, but not vote). If you are not a member of either of these groups but support the CHF’s operations, you can become an Associate, which will confer all membership benefits on you, except the right to hold office and vote.