What is a Community Service Cooperative?

Community Service Co-ops

With the passing of the 2007 amendments, non-profit co-ops can incorporate as "Community Service Co-ops", which have the same status in law as non-profit societies including eligibility for charitable status where applicable.

The legal recognition of Community Service Co-ops is a formal recognition of the unique value and role provided by co-operatives that wish to operate on a non-profit basis. The Community Service Co-op designation will end the confusion that has arisen from uncertainty surrounding the legal status of non-profit co-ops, while affirming the democratic structure of member ownership and control that is unique to the co-op model.

To incorporate as a Community Service Co-op, a co-op's Memorandum of Association must include all of the following non-alterable provisions:

  1. That the co-op is a community service co-operative,

  2. That the co-op will not issue investment shares,

  3. That the co-op's purposes are charitable or to provide health, social, educational or other community services,

  4. That upon dissolution, the co-op's property must be transferred to another community service co-op or a charitable organization,

  5. That no part of the property of the co-op is to be distributed to members while it is in operation.

Cooperatives are based on the values of self-help, democracy, equality, equity, and solidarity. Cooperative members believe in the ethical values of honesty, openness, social responsibility, caring for others, and mutual aid.

What Types of Cooperatives Are There?

- Agricultural/Producer Cooperatives (produce, process and/or markets their products and may also supply inputs and services to its members)
- Marketing/Supply Cooperatives (provide production inputs to members and also markets/processes members’ products)
- Financial Services Cooperatives
- Social Cooperatives
- Worker Cooperatives (provide employment to members by running enterprises in which the workers are both members and stakeholders)
- Community Service Cooperatives 
- Housing Cooperatives 
- Multi Stakeholder Cooperatives (many different types of members)
- Consumer Cooperatives (owned by member consumers, these co-ops buy goods & services to sell to members at special discounts).

Cooperatives on Vancouver Island

Adventures BC Travel Cooperative
Marketing/Supply Cooperative
Tourism providers across BC share marketing services and to create joint tourism packages

Cameo Co-op
Housing Cooperative
63-unit Vic West housing co-op

Cortes Island Shellfish Growers Co-operative
Agricultural/Producers Cooperative

Cultivated Forest Co-operative
Worker Cooperative
Grows Shitake mushrooms on Denman Island and explores the neuroceutical uses of mushrooms and fungi.

Food Roots
Agricultural/Producers Cooperative
Not-for-profit distributor of local produce with a focus on sustainability.

Growing Circle Food Cooperative
Multi-stakeholder Cooperative
Connects Saltspring Island consumers with local growers. Producers, Consumers and workers have equal rights in this co-op.

Imagine That! Artists' Cooperative
Marketing/Supply Cooperative
Marketing coop founded in order to deal with the lack of local art venues in the Cowichan Valley.

Island Biodiesel
Marketing/Supply Cooperative
Member-owned biodiesel supply co-op.

Island Farms/Agropour Cooperative
Agricultural/Producers Cooperative
Island Farms has joined with Agropour, the largest dairy cooperative in Canada.

Island Savings Credit Union
Financial Services Cooperative
Island Savings is the result of smaller Vancouver Island credit unions banding together and growing over nearly 50 years

Krisinelos Cooperative Housing Association
Housing Cooperative

Lake Cowichan Consumers' Cooperative Society
Multi-stakeholder Cooperative
This is a consumers' co-op as well as a workers' co-op which was originally founded in 1950 to increase the (food) purchasing power of local consumers.

Lake Cowichan Credit Union
Financial Services Cooperative
Now one of the smallest remaining independent credit unions in BC.

Marigold Co-op Housing
Housing Cooperative

Mid-Island Consumer Services Cooperative
Marketing/Supply Cooperative
Provides the public and members with heating fuel, propane, diesel, and

Sooke Lake Modular Home Cooperative Association
Housing Cooperative

Vancouver Island Cooperative Preschool Association
Service Cooperative
Consists of 15 parent-participation preschool on Vancouver Island and the Gulf Islands

Victoria Carshare Co-op
Consumer Cooperative
Shares the ownership and usage of vehicles.

Victoria Women In Need Community Cooperative
Enterprising Nonprofit Workers' Cooperative (Social Cooperative)
A totally self-sustaining community service cooperative which operates three retail locations stocked by donations from the public and puts the surplus revenue toward programs that create opportunities for women and their families in the community

Wild Island Foods Co-operative
Agricultural/Producers Cooperative
Operates on Malcolm Island, deliberately not providing goods or services that other Malcolm Island cooperatives do.

Resources available for Cooperatives

The following is just a sampling of the online resources available for cooperatives. In the true spirit of cooperation, many operating cooperatives are also happy to answer questions about how they operate!

South Islands Regional Cooperative Network

The Centre for Co-operative and Community Based Economy (CCCBE) 
The CCCBE is based out of UVIC and promotes education about, resources for and research on subjects relevant to collective undertakings. Resources include but are not limited to an extensive catalogue of co-operative information, case studies of co-operatives, case studies of the impacts of co-operatives on the BC economy, announcements of conferences, seminars and workshops, and a FAQ section.

The Co-operative Learning Centre
This is an online resource for people interested in learning about or running co-operatives. It includes information about co-operative training, how co-ops today operate, co-operative management and research on co-operatives and the issues they face.

The British Columbia Cooperative Association (BCCA)
This second-tier co-operative to other co-operatives acts as an umbrella organization for member co-ops providing support, resources, and voice for the co-op movement. The BCCA website also provides information about different types of co-operatives and their structures, history, and advice for developing new cooperatives.

Canadian Cooperative Association (CCA)
The CCA has been in operation for 100 years and currently represents more than 9 million members, and acts as an umbrella organization which aims to promote, develop and unite Canadian cooperatives. The CCA website also provides information about different types of co-operatives and their structures, history, and advice for developing new cooperatives.

Canadian Co-op Network 
The Canadian Co-op Network offers web design and membership recruitment and participation services for housing co-ops.

The Canadian Co-operatives Secretariat
This secretariat was established in 1987 to communicate the needs and issues of Canadian cooperatives to the federal government so that they might be met more effectively.

Canadian Worker Co-op Federation
A Canada-wide bilingual organization which supports member worker cooperatives by providing information and learning sessions, access to technical assistance and development grants, group purchasing plans, government relations and other resources and information.

The Canadian Social Economy Hub (CSEHub)
A facilitator promoting collaboration between research centers which publishes newsletters and academic papers, e-bulletins, arranges learning sessions for co-ops and more.

Social Economy Student Network
A forum for post-secondary academic dialogue on the social economy.

Cooperative Development Foundation of Canada
A fundraising resource for cooperative and credit union development worldwide with the aim of reducing global poverty.

Coop Zone
An online resource for starting, maintaining, and improving cooperatives. Includes resources for training. Provides information about starting new cooperatives and improving existing ones, and an extensive online resources list.