What is a Co-operative

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Rochdale Store, The First Co-op – Photo Credit Mark Paul

A co-op’s primary purpose is to meet the needs of its members, unlike most other businesses that exist solely to maximize profit.

The co-operative enterprise model can be applied to any kind of business or need.
Co-ops are often initiated by a group of people who share a common need such as a local grocery store.  In 1844, the Rochdale Equitable Pioneers Society was founded by 28 men who wanted to improve their working & living conditions.  They opened a store to sell honest food at honest prices – today it is known as the beginning of the modern co-operative movement.

To read more about co-operatives, click here.



Housing co-operatives have both market units and subsidized units. Housing co-ops call units “market units” if the member is paying the full market price. “Subsidized units” are units where the member is paying only a portion of the full market price. The balance of the housing charge is paid by the subsidy program that the co-op works with.

Co-ops can provide affordable housing for people with moderate incomes. They open their market unit waiting lists on a regular basis. There are co-ops with open waiting lists in every area of Central Ontario.  Each housing co-operative fills their vacancies independently, and the members democratically control the buildings in which they live.  There are more than 580 housing co-ops in Ontario.

Housing Co-op Members have a right to:

Vote on the annual budget, which sets the monthly housing charges

Elect a board of directors made up of people who live in your co‑op

Run for the board of directors yourself

Receive audited financial statements that show how the co‑op spent your money

Pay only a limited portion of your income for your housing, if you meet eligibility rules

Live there for as long as you like, if you keep to the by-laws agreed on by the co‑op membership