‘The missing piece’: Ottawa promises $1.5B for co-op housing

‘The missing piece’: Ottawa promises $1.5B for co-op housing

Three sisters, Pam Gaboury, Tania Mayhew, and Madeline Perrera unload gardening supplies for Madeline’s garden at the Marigold Co-op housing complex in Saanich.

Perrera lives here, while her two sisters are on the wait list to get in.

“They need more co-ops so families can afford affordable living. My sister, and I live in Oak Bay right now, and we’re paying $3,500 to rent a house. I can’t stay there when I retire because I’m not going to be able to make it,” Mayhew said.

Welcome news came for them, and many other Canadians, on Friday from Federal Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland.

“We are announcing a new $1.5 billion development program to build a new generation of co-op housing across Canada,” she said.

The feds are offering major funding to build thousands of co-op units by 2028.

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Ottawa will provide loans for building new developments, and maintaining existing ones.

Thom Armstrong, CEO of the Housing Co-op Federation of BC, said projects that are shovel-ready could begin by the end of the year.

“This is really the missing piece. The province has stepped up with a historic investment in affordable housing. The municipalities have been doing their bit by adding land into the equation. We’ve just been waiting many, many years for the federal government to come back to the table with a co-op housing program,” Armstrong said.

Co-ops are not a form of housing many people understand.

Members are not renters. They own their homes together and pay housing charges, not rent. Unlike renters, they have a say in how their housing is run.

These three sisters say they are fans, but say they are likely at least two years away from joining Perrera at Marigold.

If they do, they say their cost of living will drop significantly, from thousands a month, to hundreds.

“The price is nice. I’m on old age pension now, so my rent is only $577 a month. So that’s pretty good, you know?” Perrera said.

“If they are willing to build more, I hope so, and make it easier for people to move in. I feel sorry for a lot of the elderly who can’t afford a place,” Gaboury said.

And Ottawa is promising this cash infusion for co-ops is coming soon.

Providers will be able to apply for the first round of funding as soon as July 15.

WATCH: Victoria on track to meet housing targets, Saanich and Oak Bay running behind

Mary GriffinMary Griffin

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