Cape Breton has a long history of co-operation in housing, and throughout November there will be two events that intend to preserve that tradition and encourage the development of new co-operatives. On Wednesday, November 5, 2014, the community is invited to a story sharing session on ‘building co-operatives’. Then, on Friday, November 28, a workshop will be held on how to form new, affordable co-operative housing. Both events will feature housing research done at Cape Breton University, and are being supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.
Building co-operatives typically consisted of groups of ten families who would work together to construct their own homes. About 1,000 of these co-operatives were organized between 1930 and 1970 in Nova Scotia, and Cape Bretoners were the first to do so at the encouragement of community trailblazers like Jimmy Tompkins and Mary Arnold.
The November 5 event will be held from 1pm to 3pm at the ‘cooperative study club’ located at the New Dawn Centre for Social Innovation, 37 Nepean Street, Sydney. This will be a free event, where members of the community involved in these co-operatives are invited to share their stories and memorabilia (such as photographs and notes from meetings) about how they designed and built their homes, and how they worked with other families to do so. The event will also feature a presentation from staff at the Beaton Institute, who will share what material the regional archive holds on housing co-operatives.
Unlike building co-operatives, the November 28 workshop will provide information on co-operative housing that provides affordable rental units to residents. John Aylward, a local expert in housing development, will lead the workshop and present information on housing feasibility, pre-development, development and governance. A representative from Housing Nova Scotia will also be on hand to discuss financial support. The session will be held from 9:00am to 12:00 p.m. at the ‘cooperative study club’ located at the New Dawn Centre for Social Innovation. The workshop is free but participants should register by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org or 902-563-1661.
“These events will showcase local housing innovation and new potential for housing co-operatives,” states Catherine Leviten-Reid, a co-organizer of the events and an assistant professor in the Shannon School of Business at Cape Breton University.