The Eastwood Housing Co-operative was established in 1987 under the third, and last, social housing program administered by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). The name of the program was the Index Linked Mortgage program. In the 1990’s the program was downloaded from CMHC to the province of New Brunswick. At present it is administered by the Department of Social Development.
We are located on Spring Court in Woodstock, NB. We consist of 16 units made up of eight duplexes. Fourteen of the units are three bedroom units and two are two bedroom units. One of the two bedroom units is a handicapped accessible unit.
Our budget is comprised of the housing charges (rents) paid by our members and by a subsidy provided by the department of Social Development to enable the co-operative to keep housing charges lower than normal.
Management and Governance
As a co-operative, we elect a Board of Directors to over-see the co-op’s activities. The Board has five Directors and our by-laws state that the Board has responsibility for governance and financial control of the co-op. The Board of Directors also form an Executive Committee which monitors all financial activity in the co-op such as housing charge payments, budget preparation and financial policies.
Our Maintenance Committee reviews the health and well being of our grounds and buildings. They do annual inspections and prepare an annual work plan from the observations they make. They also react to requests for work on member identified concerns. When large projects are undertaken, Maintenance interacts with the trades people and/or contractors. They prepare and monitor maintenance policies.
Our Membership and Education Committee is charged with screening and interviewing prospective members and administering the social aspects of our life in the co-op. They will greet new members, organize our Christmas Party (complete with Santa Claus) and summer BBQ’s. They are responsible for policies that address membership issues such as processes for identifying new members and participation.
The co-operative is governed by a collection of materials. First of all, we are a co-operative. This means that we are incorporated under the Co-operative Associations Act of New Brunswick. This also means that our by-laws, etc. are slightly different from a “normal” corporation.
This means as well that we are committed to the seven co-operative principles as established by the International Co-operative Alliance.
1. Voluntary and open membership,
2. democratic member control,
3. member’s economic participation,
4. autonomy and independence,
5. education, training and information,
6. cooperation among co-operatives,
7. concern for community.
We have formal by-laws that are approved by the membership of the co-operative and the Co-operative Secretariat of the Department of Justice. These define our basic governance activity and define who we are as a corporation.
We also have a formal operating agreement that defines our purpose and relationship with our government stake holders. Initially this was signed with CMHC and now has been transferred to the department of Social Development of the province of New Brunswick.
Internally we prepare policies that expand on the legislation that govern us and help us establish processes that help inform members of their rights and responsibilities. Policies are developed by the Board of Directors, Executive Committee, Maintenance and Membership and Education specifically for their areas of influence. Once developed, they are referred to the Board and then by the General Membership for approval.
The final part of our governing materials is the occupancy agreement that the member signs with the co-operative. This sets our relationship and corporate/member responsibilities. This includes things like payment of housing charges (rent), notice of leaving, etc.
We are not a rental facility. We are a small community comprised of 16 families. We are a corporation that has sixteen shareholders, each member of the co-operative. As such, we all have a direct influence on, and benefit from, our life here.
Through our committee and general membership responsibilities we develop close working relationships with our neighbors. We learn about one another and work to help one another. We build on this by having Court wide yard sales, Christmas parties, BBQs, etc.
External Organization Participation
The Eastwood Housing Co-operative believes fully in the 6th Co-operative Principle (namely “co-operation among co-operatives”). This means that the co-operative believes that members and co-ops are stronger working together.
New Brunswick housing co-operatives have formed a provincial association called Brunswick Co-op Housing (or BRUNCH). All 22 Housing co-ops and 2 resource groups are members. The purpose of BRUNCH is to provide a forum for discussion and action on common issues.
BRUNCH also acts on behalf of our fellow co-ops with the province of New Brunswick, the Co-operative Enterprise Council of New Brunswick and the Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada.
The Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada is our national organization with over 900 member co-ops across the country. They represent us on the national stage and act as a clearing house for training, information and national/regional information. Together, with BRUNCH, a fall Education Event is provided to train members on various aspects of Co-op housing living.
The Co-operative Enterprise Council of New Brunswick is an organization that represents all types of co-ops across the province such as farm co-ops, credit unions, housing co-ops, etc. BRUNCH is a member of this council on behalf of all provincial housing co-ops.
CEC NB also has a national organization called the Canadian Co-operative Association. This organization, based in Ottawa, represents all types of co-ops across the country.