Frequently Asked Questions - Co-op Housing

Answers

  1. What is co-op housing?

  2. What are some of the advantages of co-op living?

    Co-op members have security of tenure. That means you can live in your home for as long as you wish if you follow the rules of the co-op and pay your housing charges on time.

    As a co-op member, you have a say in decisions that affect your home. You and your neighbours own your homes together, which means you have a say in how they are managed. Co-op housing is not public housing. Co-ops are self-governed, mixed-income communities, home to people of all ages and backgrounds.

    Find out more about life in a housing co-op.

  3. How has the need for housing options been identified?

    The Comox Valley Regional Housing Needs Assessment completed in 2020 through the Comox Valley Regional District highlighted the need for more affordable, accessible, and connected housing options in the region. Community engagement identified a strong public desire for alternative forms of housing.

    Learn more at www.comoxvalleyrd.ca/housingneeds

  4. What planning documents support increased density and housing in the downtown core?

    Downtown revitalization planning and consultation in 2015 and 2016 led to the development of the Downtown Courtenay Playbook. Three key themes emerged as the guiding principles for downtown revitalization:

    1. More people in a greater downtown area
      Expand the core area of the Downtown to provide more development opportunities and bring more people downtown.
    2. A connected downtown
      Provide easy access from all directions and by all modes of transportation
    3. A complete downtown
      Create the heart of our community where a wide range of activities are occurring and provide residents with opportunities to shop, work, play, and learn for 24/7 in all seasons.

    The playbook encouraged residential development and intensification opportunities within the greater downtown area.  Learn more: www.courtenay.ca/downtown

    Courtenay is also updating the Official Community Plan, with a goal of focusing the majority of growth in existing municipal areas and nodes along transit corridors.  Learn more: www.courtenay.ca/OCPupdate  

     

  5. If any of the applications to BC Housing’s Community Housing Fund program are successful, would that automatically mean the proposal(s) go ahead?

    No. If any of the applications are approved, the City of Courtenay and the Community Land Trust would seek input from key stakeholders including the Downtown Courtenay Business Improvement Association, the Comox Valley Coalition to End Homelessness, a variety of community partners, and the general public.

  6. How large would these developments be?

    Each proposal is site-specific.

    • 152 1st Street: proposed 4-6 storey wood-frame residential development, approximately 45 homes
    • 645 - 725 Cliffe Avenue: proposed 6-storey wood-frame residential, approximately 40 homes with ground floor community services
    • 425 Duncan Avenue: proposed 5-storey wood-frame residential development on 1 storey of concrete commercial space in the downtown core, approximately 36 homes
  7. How were these proposed locations chosen?

    Courtenay Council reviewed a comprehensive analysis of several city-owned properties which evaluated numerous considerations, including:

    • Access, site constraints, surrounding infrastructure, buildings and natural habitat
    • Lot size that could accommodate an optimal number of households for operational efficiencies (around 40 households)
    • Suitability for housing families and seniors, including universal and accessible design
    • Proximity to services, including schools, parks, services, and community amenities
    • Potential for community or retail space
    • Financial viability – do the locations meet the criteria for funding opportunities from senior levels of government

    Each property was carefully scored and ranked. The three proposals selected were determined to most closely meet the above criteria as proposed sites for co-op housing and hold the strongest likelihood of success for funding opportunities

  8. If the funding application for 152 1st Street were successful, would the co-op housing proposal include part of Riverside Lane?

    Not necessarily. In the event of a successful funding application for 152 1st Street, and following public consultation with the neighbourhood and the community, a portion of Riverside Lane off 1st Street could potentially be combined with the adjacent City-owned vacant land to create a larger parcel, allowing more space and flexibility for a potential co-op housing development. This land is currently zoned for commercial use and would require land use amendments. Much more analysis and consultation would be required to determine impacts before a decision is made.

  9. How was the co-op housing model chosen?

    Courtenay Council worked with staff and expert consultants throughout 2020 to review options for affordable housing models within the community. Co-operative housing and the Community Land Trust model was part of this analysis. In fall 2020, Council selected the co-op model as the ideal approach for our community and Community Land Trust was tasked with conducting feasibility assessments of several municipally-owned sites.

  10. How long do people typically live in co-op housing?

    Co-ops are intended for long-term residency. Courtenay’s proposals aim to incorporate pet friendly, smoke free, social inclusion, intergenerational living opportunities, and aging-in-place strategies that ensure security of tenure for families and individuals, including seniors and elders, alike.

  11. Where would the funding for these projects come from?

    The City and Community Land Trust are seeking funding contributions from other levels of government to fund the development of the project, including the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) Co-Investment Fund and the BC Housing Community Housing Fund.

  12. What would the City of Courtenay contribute towards these proposals?

    If any of the applications are successful, and if following a comprehensive public consultation process the development were to proceed, the City of Courtenay would offer the land under a long-term lease agreement, with the facility to be managed by the Community Land Trust. Upon the termination of the long-term lease, the facility would be transferred to the City.

  13. Who would manage the facility/facilities during the lease agreement?

    Community Land Trust would provide management services, and work with the co-op to develop a maintenance plan and corresponding budgets. The goal would be to ensure the co-op remains financially sustainable for the length of the long-term lease and/or the life of the building. This would include proactive preventive maintenance which lowers overall life-cycle cost. Savings would be passed directly through to the co-op members to reduce operating costs and keep housing affordable.

  14. When will we know if any of these applications are successful?

    The application deadline for the Building BC Community Housing Fund is January 15, 2021. Successful proposals will likely be announced by the Province of BC in April.

  15. Assuming any of these projects proceed, what are the estimated* timelines?

    Milestone Estimated Date
    Proposal Approved under Community Housing Fund April 2021
    Public & Stakeholder Engagement May – August 2021
    Development Permit Submission September 2021
    Development Permit Complete November 2022
    Building Permit Winter 2023
    Construction Start Winter 2023
    Occupancy Summer 2024

    * These are initial estimates only. If any projects are approved, actual timelines will reflect the results of community consultation along with site-specific considerations, permit approvals, contractor availability, etc.

  16. How would sustainability be incorporated into the development(s)?

    If successful under this application, the project team would source architectural, mechanical, and energy consultants to support the advancement of designs to meet BC Housing’s energy and Green House Gas (GHG) requirements under the BC Step Code. The City would also like the building(s) to include electric vehicle charging and electric bike storage and charging capabilities, as well as low-carbon energy sources in the building heating system.

  17. How much would it cost to live in co-op housing?

    While estimated tenant housing charges are not yet finalized, Courtenay’s applications propose a mix of affordability levels and unit types. The intent is for co-op housing to be attainable for low and middle-income earners.  

  18. I am interested in living in co-op housing. If any of these proposals come to fruition, how would I apply to live there?

    If any of these projects proceed, the Community Land Trust would coordinate the application process for those looking for a home in co-op housing, with outreach support from local stakeholders and community groups. There is no application process in place at this time.    

  19. How would tenant applications be considered?

    Eligibility would include: 

    • Households referred by the local neighbourhood associations, community health centers, and other potential community partners;
    • Households which are current neighbourhood residents;
    • Households which have at least one member employed within the neighbourhoodor city;
    • Households which have at least one member employed at a local school or other public sector employer (i.e. healthcare, RCMP, fire department);
    • Single parent households;
    • Indigenous individuals, families, and elders;
    • Multi-generational households (where one or more homes may be requested to accommodate all family members within the same building);
    • Non-profit social servant households (e.g. those working for non-profits with health, social services, education, and/or environmental missions); and
    • Households referred by other non-profit agencies.

     

    The above criteria were developed by Community Land Trust over their years of prior experience with other co-op housing developments in other communities.

  20. How will I be able to give my opinion about this?

    The City of Courtenay is considering potential public engagement approaches and opportunities should any of the three applications be successful. The Community Land Trust will work with the City of Courtenay to develop a site-specific and community-wide engagement strategy, including consultation with key stakeholders and the general public. More information will be provided on public engagement opportunities if funding for any of these proposals is approved. A final decision would only be made after Council has heard from the public and all variables are carefully considered.

  21. Where can I learn more?

    For more information about the Community Land Trust, and view a portfolio of projects, visit www.cltrust.ca

    To learn about housing initiatives in the City of Courtenay, visit www.courtenay.ca/housing