Archive for September 18th, 2010

More on Community Building

If you’re a fan of City Repair, you may enjoy this slide show in YES magazine that includes some of their newer projects.  There is also an interview with founder Mark Lakeman that is a terrific read, especially if you didn’t make it to the talk we sponsored last year.  It features “10 Courageous Things you can do to Build Community.” It’s always great to have people/ ideas like this in front to us, so we don’t have to figure it all out by ourselves.

On the home front, we do have some interesting local projects that you may not have seen before.  Take a saunter down the lane behind the 100 block of Victoria Road to check out Norm Abbey’s ingenious gate with moving parts.


SECA T-shirts

Thanks for modelling, Leonard!

Being spotted everywhere…:)  If you haven’t got a SECA Tee-shirt, or want another, call Sandra at Sandra’s Head to Toe Salon, 753.1394. Cost is still $20 (no HST added

Neighbourhood Bookshelf

We put out the call last month (we need a new bookshelf) and it has been answered.  We’ve got an amazing design (quirky, of course), and a volunteer builder.  The front doors have appeared, courtesy of  the Chans at Fernville House.

Request 1: Do you have any extra plywood laying about (1/2″  or 5/8″) that you can spare for the shelves?  We need 4 pieces, about 10″ x 40″ and 2 pieces 36″ x 12″.  Happy to cut pieces down to size.  Call Barbara @ 740 0123.

Request 2: We’re a little low on supplies.  Do you have any books that are ready for their next adventure?  Bring them on down to 152 Irwin Street.

What’s Hot:

  • Murder mystery and suspense.
  • Kid’s books.
  • Current paperbacks
  • Current magazines.

To the kind souls who left “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” and “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy, may the universe repay you big time for your  generosity.

What’s Not:

  • plumbing manuals from the 1950’s
  • economics or chemistry (actually, most) textbooks
  • old magazines like 1982 National Geographics, especially ones with half the pictures ripped out
  • Harlequin romances (are they passe or is it a South End phenomenon?)
  • Readers Digest condensed books
  • Margaret Trudeau’s “Beyond Reason” (sorry, Margaret, hope your new book gets a warmer response..:)

Luckily, the mixed paper bin at Nanaimo Recycling Exchange gobbles old books etc with gusto!

Housing Coops For the South .End?

Coops are a good method of protecting a neighborhood. For one thing, they increase the stock of low-cost housing. This keeps the neighborhood affordable for working people, thus maintaining a community, whereas gentrification can disrupt and fracture a community. Coops are also grass roots democracy in action, as the membership sets up the cooperative and controls it democratically through the coop assembly. This micro-level democracy creates a good foundation for democracy in the larger community.

Case in point, I lived for ten years in Point St. Charles, one of the poorest neighborhoods in Montreal. But it is a safe place to live, and has not undergone extensive gentrification. People are actively involved in the community, rather than being passive renters or householders. This is so, in large measure because Point St. Charles has more housing coops than any other area of its size in Canada.

Coops are usually  better than either rented apartments or condos. How?

They are ideal for the elderly who do not want the insecurity of rental apartments, yet don’t wish to own a house or condo. If you rent you can be kicked out for renovations or condo conversion. Your rent can be increased without your approval. Furthermore, rent has to be paid as long as you live there. Not so with a coop. You own it and when it is paid for your payments cease. (other than taxes and upkeep)

With condos you have a down payment and a mortgage. Not so with a coop, no individual down payment or mortgage. You pay your share of the cost each month until the building is paid for.

Condos are designed by developers, and both design and facilities may not be what you really want. When you form a coop, you decide how it is built and what facilities it has. (Within building code and by-laws, of course.)

Condos can have invasive and undemocratic internal regulations covenanted by the developer and virtually impossible to change. Coop members set the rules.

Condos have monthly fees. Coops generally do not have fees above the monthly payment, depending on the will and needs of the membership.

Info – There are 2186 housing coops in Canada with 92,000 living units or 250,000 people. (2007) Total value, $5. 6 billion. The latter is a figure from 1999, so it is probably more like $10 billion now.


There are various means by which a group of people can finance a housing cooperative. The following is taken directly from the Cooperative Housing Federation Canada (CHF) web site:

“Financial assistance provided to housing co-operatives varies according to the different government programs, for example:

  • low-interest loans for 50 years through direct lending from the federal government’s Crown Corporation for housing, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).
  • grants to reduce construction costs
  • ongoing financial assistance to assist with operating costs, according to various formulas
  • housing allowances to low-income members, administered by the co-operatives.

Federal or provincial housing corporations insure co-op mortgages. In many cases the federal government is the mortgage lender. All housing co-operatives have signed an operating agreements with the applicable level of government of varying terms up to 50 years, though most last for no more than 35 years.

Housing co-operatives financed by the third and last federal program use an index-linked mortgage… These co-ops have set up a stabilization fund through an initial contribution of 3% of the capital costs. This fund provides financial assistance to the housing co-operatives having difficulties that can compromise their long-term viability…

CHF has also set up a risk underwriting fund … to provide loan guarantees that can provide short-term bridge funding to assist with the development of co-op housing and assist existing co-ops in their operations.”

Coop Housing Resources

The Tyee article on coop housing – http://thetyee.ca/News/2010/07/05/CoOpInYourFuture/

CMHC’s Guide to Coop housing, see http://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/co/buho/gucoho/index.cfm

Coop Housing Federation Canada http://www.chfcanada.coop/icahousing/pages/membersearch.asp?op=country&id=2

BC Non-profit Housing Assn. http://www.bcnpha.ca/

BC Coop Housing Foundation http://www.chf.bc.ca/

Larry Gambone

Read Full Post »

The city’s efforts to disperse low-income housing is not being particularly well-received as they are being introduced to some neighbourhoods.  It’s a bit of a stroll down memory lane for we South Enders, when we dealt with the Balmoral issue.  Two polarized letters to the editor in the Daily News may provide food for thought for you.  Just click on the headline to read them.

Susan Lynne Knight, The Daily News. Published: Thursday, September 23, 2010

A little tolerance could go a long way

Sue Kurucz, The Daily News. Published: Wednesday, September 29, 2010

And more news…..

Port authority will discuss First Nation’s concerns

Board members say they’re ‘disappointed’ Snuneymuxw chief took his concerns public

Walter Cordery, The Daily News, Published: Monday, September 13, 2010

Snuneymuxw threaten to stall cruise dock over concern for estuary

Chief claims port authority is not abiding by agreement First Nation signed to address environmental concerns

Walter Cordery, Daily News, Published: Friday, September 10, 2010

$22-million floating cruise ship terminal won’t sit idle

Port of Nanaimo says, unlike Campbell River, it consulted with industry about the design

Darrell Bellaart, Daily News, Published: Thursday, September 09, 2010

Read Full Post »