A co-operative is an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise.
Co-operatives are based on the values of self-help, self-responsibility, democracy, equality, equity, and solidarity. In the tradition of their founders, co-operative members believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility, and caring for others.
We celebrate the diversity of our membership and are committed to creating a community free from discrimination under the Canadian and Ontario Human Rights Codes.
The organizational structure of the co-op conforms to provincial legislation governing incorporated non-profit co-operative entities. The main components of this structure are the General Membership, the Board of Directors, and officers. In addition, the Board of Directors can create committees that are either permanent or temporary.
The members meet quarterly to adopt policies and annually elect the Board of Directors drawn from the co-op’s membership. The Board of Directors meet on a regular basis to administer policies based on committee recommendations.
Participation—one of the responsibilities of membership—is also one of the primary advantages. Members benefit greatly from a well-run, financially sound, and well-maintained housing project. Participation in co-op activities and decision-making processes is key to each member’s control over the project, and yields social benefits as neighbours can become friends and a community is formed. Each member is expected to contribute at least 4 volunteer hours per month.
Our vision of who we are is also shaped by our commitment to give service of the best possible quality at a fair price. We define our commitment to serve through the aims that Canadian housing co-operatives hold in common. Our shared aims include:
Meeting our members’ need for:
- good housing that people can afford through wise decisions at the time of development, an active membership, not-for-profit operation, and assistance for low-income households
- security of tenure based on respect for members’ rights as joint resident-owners, fair application of the by-laws, effective management, striking a balance between group and individual needs, and protection from the sale of the property
- safe and secure communities in physical design and in attention to domestic violence and other crime in our co-operatives and neighbourhoods
- control over our housing environment through educated decisions on budgets and governance, and resistance to undue intervention by government in co-op affairs
- community by means of co-op traditions that celebrate tolerance, mutual support and social, cultural, ethnic, and economic diversity among members as a source of strength
- opportunities for personal growth through co-op education and our expectation that all members will contribute what they can to the co-op
Meeting our responsibility to the larger community through:
- involvement in our immediate neighbourhoods
- choices that respect the environment and demonstrate the principles of sustainable human settlements
- support for co-operative development in Canada and abroad
Meeting our responsibility to future generations by:
- practising stewardship, including responsible care of co-op lands and buildings, economical management, not-for-profit operation, and the creation of land trusts
- lobbying governments for fair housing policies that work for all of us
Reproduced from the Co-operative Housing Federation of Toronto.