Co-ops examine ways to enhance their membership processes; continue to work closely with the Federation on lease renewal

By Nancy Hannum, Chair, *RePlan Co-op Authorized Working Group and Joint Co-op Board Committee

Lease Discussions

The Co-operative Housing Federation of BC (CHF BC) has provided us with an economic analysis of False Creek South co-ops. CHF BC staff examined the costs of running and maintaining five sample co-ops over 30 years, and compared these costs to the potential additional costs of lease renewal.

As a result, we are proposing the City of Vancouver focus on the social benefits of FCS co-ops providing long term, affordable housing for people in the community, rather than maximizing its financial return from lease renewal. This concept is called the ‘social rate of return’ instead of the ‘financial rate of return’.

City Council and staff want to expand affordable housing options in Vancouver. And False Creek South co-ops can help address the housing affordability crisis. But the affordability of co-op operations and the affordability of housing costs for members depend on the affordability of the lease renewal cost.

Based on the economic analysis, CHF BC worked with our co-ops to develop a draft 99-year lease. Our Joint Co-op Board Committee has reviewed the lease and recommends FCS co-ops proceed to negotiations with the City. To maintain affordable housing, co-ops would pay a low amount to renew leases, and what the City gets is long term affordable housing.

False Creek co-ops have met twice with Kathleen Llewellyn-Thomas, General Manager of Community Services, and other City staff to discuss our desire to begin negotiations using this draft lease. We propose FCS co-ops have a common negotiation process for the general business sections of the lease and common FCS issues, and then have each co-op deal with specific details for their development. We hope to begin soon.

Sharing strengths

By working together on lease renewal, we realized we can help each other with common issues. So we held a first joint meeting of our co-ops’ membership committees to discuss the potential for sharing some processes, addressing issues of transparency and diversity with member selection, and rightsizing with the opportunity to move among developments.

And we held a first meeting of Finance Committee representatives to discuss common concerns, long term asset management and financial planning.