Local housing co-op provides support to east end co-op following fire

Stuart Hammond

The Better Living Co-op Building after the devastating April 28 fire.
Photo Stuart Hammond

On the evening of April 28, Ottawa area firefighters responded to 911 calls at the Better Living Residential Co-op on Ogilvie Road in the city’s east end. The fire ravaged the co-op’s four-storey building, forcing occupants of 12 units to find shelter elsewhere. No one was injured.

After a May 1 fundraiser, Better Living Co-op received over $22,000 in donations. Members of Ottawa’s Sandy Hill Housing Co-op have shown their support by donating $5,000.

The Sandy Hill Housing Co-op along with the Co-operative Housing Association of Eastern Ontario (CHASEO) has issued a challenge to other co-ops to consider what they could afford to donate to the cause. Two principal co-op tenets are “Co-operation among co-operatives” and “Concern for the community.”

Founded in 1984, the Sandy Hill Housing Co-op is made up of approximately 150 people in 63 units near the University of Ottawa. Members of the Sandy Hill Housing Co-op are proud of their support for their own residents in need, such as seniors and those living with disabilities, by providing rent subsidies from their own capital funds. Gillian Graham is on its board of directors and has lived and raised her family here for 14 years. “Our co-op not only provides stability in the Sandy Hill neighbourhood, it also supports the broader community through initiatives like this one,” she explains.

Co-ops also play a role in building strong, supportive neighbourhoods. In December, with the desire to support local businesses affected by the pandemic, the Sandy Hill Housing Co-op hosted a film screening at the ByTowne Cinema.

At a time when Canada is facing escalating housing prices, co-operative housing offers a viable, democratic and sustainable solution to the affordability crisis. In the Ottawa region alone, there are 65 housing co-operatives providing 3,600 homes for people with low and moderate incomes, including seniors, families, newcomers and those living with a disability.

Better Living Co-op members receive a $5,000 donation from members of the Sandy Hill Housing Co-op. Better Living office manager Yvonne Ashby holds the cheque. Board member Stuart Hammond is second from right.
Photo Stuart Hammond