Three Surprising Benefits of Supporting a Local Co-op
Guest post by Victoria Mayor, Lisa Helps. Read more of Lisa Help’s blog posts here.
Co-operatives have a long history within Canada and British Columbia as key supporters of investing in local communities. There are co-ops throughout the province with thousands of members—in fact, you may be a member of a co-op and not even be aware of it!
Twenty years ago, Modo was founded as a small carsharing co-op in Vancouver’s West End with just 16 members and two cars. Since then, they’ve grown their membership, amalgamated with Victoria Car Share Co-op in 2015 and recently added Nanaimo to their service area. With this in mind, I’d like to share some thoughts on the important role local co-ops play in enriching our community.
First, a co-op is member-owned meaning the service is created for members by members. Modo’s purpose is connect people with places in a way that’s affordable, convenient, inclusive and sustainable. Yes, they need to be profitable to sustain themselves, but a co-op puts those earnings back into the business to improve the service, expand operations, or make improvements required to maintain the business—so you know your money is doing good things.
A co-op enriches our communities and not only through the service they provide. A prime example are the many housing co-ops in and around Victoria. Affordable housing is a growing concern for cities of all scales around the world. To keep cities thriving, we need to ensure our population has a safe place to live that doesn’t require the expense and pressure of relocating. When we invest in people, the return is beyond measure. The new federal housing strategy will re-invest in co-ops and keep these a viable form of affordable housing in our community.
Finally, I believe in co-ops because they can be anything—honestly. The variety of co-ops in BC is staggering and covers many sectors including farming, science, technology, education, business, arts and, of course, transportation. Co-ops have a history of getting things done where traditional business models fail. They also build connection and encourage people to invest in their communities. It’s a fitting time to be discussing how to make a difference in our communities with today marking the beginning of BC Buy Local Week across British Columbia, a celebration of the contributions our local businesses make in our province and our communities.