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Push for more affordable housing begins here

Thom Armstrong -
Thom Armstrong
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The push for more affordable housing in Cowichan could best be described as an underground hum of conversation.

Cowichan Co-operative Connections is hoping a two-day event might be the catalyst to thrust it into the forefront.

Thom Armstrong, executive director for the Co-op Housing Federation of B.C. will be the keynote speaker for the Duncan event, titled Housing Co-operatives: A Solution to the Affordable Housing Problem in the Cowichan Region.

Housing co-ops are typically run on a non-profit basis and owned by their members. Every month, each member pays an amount that covers their share of the operating costs of their co-op.

Armstrong, who has developed such housing projects in Ontario, Saskatchewan and B.C. — including a recent partnership with the City of Vancouver to build more than 350 new affordable homes — will give a talk exploring the basics of housing co-ops and how such housing could be applied locally.

His talk will springboard into a workshop exploring the steps in building co-operative housing locally.

“Our affordable housing problem in the Cowichan Valley is only getting worse. We need new ideas for addressing this issue, and co-ops have a proven record across Canada at giving working people decent housing at a reasonable cost,” Cowichan Co-operative Connections President Rob Douglas said. “We hope this two-day event is just the start of something much bigger.”

Douglas said facilitated group discussions will give participants an opportunity to discuss the basics of the housing co-op model, how co-ops could address the affordable housing problem, the typical costs of the various models such as equity and non-equity co-ops, and possible next steps for building such housing locally.

The intention of the workshop is to create a core group that will lead the development of the Cowichan region’s first housing co-op.

Armstrong’s talk will begin at 7 p.m., Friday March 14 at the Cowichan campus of Vancouver Island University. The workshop will follow the next day from 9 a.m. to noon.

The event is by donation and pre-registration is not required. For more information, call 250-715-3039 or 250-710-0351.

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