Environmental concerns are now high on the list of priorities for cooperatives in Canada, where apex body Cooperative Housing Federation of Canada is encouraging members to design and implement projects to green their communities.
CHF Canada believes actions by the cooperative housing sector can make a difference. To offset greenhouse gasses emitted when staff members travel across the country, in 2016 the federation launched a fund called Greener Co-op Microgrants. As part of the initiative, CHF Canada funds small projects from CA $500 to a limit of CA $4,000. All CHF Canada member cooperatives can apply.
In 2019, CHF Canada gave out a total of CA$51,217 in Greener Co-op Microgrants, allowing 21 cooperatives across the country to undertake small projects that promote sustainability. So far this year, CHF has allocated CA $38,424 to 13 housing coops. The federation is awaiting confirmation on additional funding, which would fund an additional CA$77,500.
Projects funded over the years included pollinator gardens, low-flush toilets, e-bike charging stations, heat pumps, a solar charging station for garden equipment, rain barrels, trees, community gardens, and feasibility studies.
Using the microgrant from CHF Canada, Corktown Co-operative Homes in Hamilton, Ontario was able to provide security for the members’ bikes somewhere other than their units. Likewise, Halston Hills Co-op, a 90 unit cooperative located in Burnaby, British Columbia, replaced the community building’s 33-year old electric baseboard heaters with a heat pump that is five times more efficient and serves as an air-conditioning unit during the hot months of the year.
At Bamburgh Circle Co-operative, in Scarborough, a suburb of Toronto, the board not only replaced common area light fixtures with LED fixtures but also committed to disposing of the fixtures through a local organisation that collects electronics and old light bulbs.
These are just some of the projects backed through the Greener Co-op Microgrants. Since it was set up in 2016, the scheme has funded sustainability initiatives in 75 housing coops, including this year’s 13 cooperatives.
By continuing the programme, CHF Canada hopes to help its members implement changes that will have positive impacts on the environment, as well as reduce their consumption of non-renewable resources and save money.
Photo: Le Coeur Housing Co-op in Vancouver