frequently asked questions
Q. How do Housing Co-operatives differ from Condominiums?
A. In condominiums each resident owns his/her own home and is free to sell the home at current market value. Co-operatives are managed by their Members, collectively, and because of the non-profit aspect, monthly housing charges are usually less than monthly mortgage payments & condo fees. Philosophically, co-operatives thrive on loyal Membership, which encourages interdependency on many levels.
Q. What are the benefits of Membership in Sunnyhill Housing Co-operative?
A. Security of tenure, housing charges that do not fluctuate with the housing market, community living, the right to have a say in what happens at Sunnyhill, and a great environment for raising children, to name a few.
Q. Are Sunnyhill members renters or owners?
A. Members are definitely are NOT renters. Collectively Sunnyhill members ‘own’ the mortgage on the buildings and the land lease for the property the buildings are resident upon.
Q. Do I own my Unit?
A. No. You own shares in Sunnyhill Housing Co-operative which owns ALL the Units. As a Shareholder/Member you are entitled to reside in one of the Units.
Q. Is my Share purchase amount really just a large damage deposit?
A. No. When you buy your Shares, you become a Member of Sunnyhill Housing Co-operative. As noted earlier, Membership gives you the right to reside in the Co-op and to have a say in what happens in the Co-op. However, it is true that, if there is damage to your Unit when you leave the Co-op, the Co-op can withhold monies from your Share ‘refund’ to pay for repairs. Keep in mind that you are responsible for damage to your Unit, even if the cost of repair upon your departure is greater than the value of your Shares.
Q. If I decide to move out, can I sell my shares?
A. No. Your shares are bought back by Sunnyhill, subject to any monies which might be withheld as per Section 10 of our Shareholders Agreement. The shares will be re-sold to the next incoming Member.
Q. What additional costs are associated with living in the Co-op?
A. Members purchase shares when they first join the Co-op. The usual household utility expenses are paid by the member: gas, electrical power and communications. In addition, 2 and 3 bedroom units are not provided with washers and dryers, although hook-ups are available.
Q. Am I allowed to keep pets?
A. Yes, but it is a privilege, and not a right. You will need to ensure that you follow our Pet Policy.
Q. Do I have to volunteer at Sunnyhill? Do I have to be involved on a committee?
A. YES you must volunteer. You have chosen to live in a housing cooperative and you have accepted the responsibility of sharing in this Co-op’s affairs. Every Unit is asked to try to have at least one Member actively serving on a committee or the Board. We understand that sometimes Members will need a break from volunteering for short periods of time during their stay at Sunnyhill, and these breaks are acceptable to the Members. We also understand that some volunteer work can be accomplished outside of committee work and so we try to stretch our definition of ‘volunteer’ to accommodate those efforts.
Q. What will happen if the Co-op should be dissolved?
A. After payment of its debts and liabilities and after repayment of Shares to the Members, the remaining property of the non-profit housing coop has to be transferred to or distributed among, one or more non-profit housing co-operatives, non-profit organizations or charitable organizations as per 389(1)(b) of the Cooperatives Act, Alberta.
Q. How and when is the Board of Directors chosen?
A. Prospective Directors are nominated out of the general Membership prior to, or during the Annual General Meeting. Any Member may submit his/her own name or that of another Member for nomination. The Directors are volunteers who are elected democratically by secret ballot at an Annual General Meeting.
Q. Can anyone vote at the Annual General Meeting or a Special Meeting?
A. NO. The rule is one vote per Unit.
Q. Who makes the rules for our Co-op?
A. We must abide by the defining documents of our Housing Co-operative. These include the National Housing Act, our Commitment Letters with CMHC, our Operating Agreement with CMHC, our Mortgage Agreement with the CMHC, our Land Lease with the City of Calgary, the Cooperatives Act and Regulations, Alberta, our Articles of Incorporation, our Shareholders Agreement and our Bylaws. Additionally – we must abide by our own policies and procedures. Members, either individually or as Member of a committee, write and revise policies and procedures and the general Membership approves all policies and procedures at Co-op Special Meetings. Current By-laws provide for the Board to approve any policy which is not deemed a Major Policy, but currently the Board has deemed that all policy must be approved by the Members.
Q. Am I responsible for insurance on my personal possessions?
A. Yes. Your personal insurance should cover fire insurance on ALL personal property, including any Improvements to your Unit as well as personal liability.
Q. How much is the housing charge at Sunnyhill for 2017/2018?
1 Bedroom Unit - $690
2 Bedroom Unit - $918
3 Bedroom Unit - $1056
Members can request a subsidy after 1 year of residency. The amount of subsidy varies but can be UP TO approximately $150 per month based on household income.
Q. Who qualifies for subsidy?
A. The notion of subsidies and surcharges allows the Co-op to provide an affordable housing charge to members with low incomes, by charging members who make a larger income a slightly higher housing charge. In order to qualify for a subsidy the Member (i) must have a low income, (ii) no non-members who are not dependents may be living in the unit (non-member room-mates or non-dependents disqualify the Member from receiving a subsidy) and (iii) the Housing Fit Policy must be met, e.g. a single person in a 1 bedroom, a couple in a 2 bedroom, or a couple and child in a 3 bedroom. Note that a Member who applies for an appropriate sized unit may still receive a subsidy, provided they accept the first unit offered.
Q. Are we required to report our income if we are not applying for subsidy?
A. No. Members are required to report their household income on the Income Information form distributed each April only if they are applying for subsidy from the Co-op.
Q. How much do housing charges increase each year?
A. The Co-operative is a non-profit corporation. Typically increases in housing charges have kept pace with inflation with an increase of 1 to 3% each year. However, housing charges are the Co-op’s only source of income and could increase by larger amounts should it be required due to an increase in the expenditure budget for the year, such as might occur as a result of increased labor costs. Note also that if there is a change in your financial or living circumstances which no longer allow you to qualify for subsidy, housing charges can increase to the maximum rate charged in the following fiscal year, which in extenuating circumstances could be as much as 25% more.
Sunnyhill has a number of different committees and task forces that play a vital role in the operation of the co-op. Below is a list of some of the committees that Members can be involved in.
The Finance Committee
The Finance Committee assists the Treasurer by reviewing monthly financial reports and sitting on ad-hoc committees studying financial policies and procedures. They also help to prepare the annual budget which is usually presented to and approved by the Membership by March 31. Finally the Finance Committee calculates the Housing Charge each year according to the Housing Charge Calculation and Collection policy. This occurs in April/May annually.
The Member Selection Committee
This committee has the job of reviewing and assessing applications for Membership in Sunnyhill. Additionally, the committee is responsible for ensuring that all Units of the Co-op are occupied. The Member Selection Committee also manages policy on internal transfers, adult children applying for Membership, and other unique Membership queries which crop up from time to time.
The Education Committee
The Education Committee works closely with the Member Selection Committee conducting Prospective Members’ Seminars. The Education Committee also works closely with all other committees, serving as a source of information respecting the various agreements and documents by which our conduct must be ruled. Members of this Sunnyhill Housing committee are available to the Board for the same purpose. The Education Committee also strives to serve as a reference for the Board and all committees in the Co-op, when these groups wish to write or revise Co-op policies and procedures.
The Member Involvement Committee
The Member Involvement Committee works with the Members to ensure that everyone is volunteering in some way, shape or form and contributing to our co-op. A representative from Member Involvement contacts each new Member shortly after move-in to let them know what opportunities are available, and to hopefully find a good fit.
The Member’s Concerns Committee
This committee mediates disputes among Members, or between Members and committees. It tries to anticipate problems before they arise and provide resolution.
The Buildings/Maintenance Committee
The Buildings/Maintenance Committee is composed of a representative from each ‘block’ of Units and other ad-hoc members. It is the Block Representatives who provide P.O.s for work done by Co-op contractors when Members need work done in their Units. This committee oversees the required maintenance of the Co-op. While Co-op Members ARE responsible for their individual Units, this committee must oversee major maintenance issues (such as replacement of water heaters, roof replacement). The Buildings/Maintenance Committee works to see that quotes are collected, a competent Contractor is selected, etc. ensuring that work gets done here at Sunnyhill.
The Grounds Committee
Similar in nature to the Buildings/Maintenance Committee, the Grounds Committee oversees major Grounds issues, and collects quotes, selects a competent Contractor, etc. thus ensuring that work gets done here at Sunnyhill. Each Member is responsible for the care and maintenance of their own yard and driveway.
The Communications Committee
This committee is responsible for the Newsletter and all web presence including the Website. Its purpose is to facilitate internal and external communications. As such it receives submissions, writes submissions, edits, publishes and distributes the Newsletter on a monthly basis and maintains and creates content for the Website. The Newsletter is known as the “voice of Sunnyhill” and is crucial to inter co-op communication. The Website is a resource for the Sunnyhill Membership and a place where an external public can learn more about cooperative housing and Sunnyhill Housing Co-operative. The committee facilitates marketing for other committees to support their communications to members.
The Social Committee
The Social Committee organizes soirees, parties, Co-op birthday celebrations, Stampede breakfasts, and any other social activities desired or required to ensure social communication amongst our Members.
The Youth Committee
In May 2004 the Sunnyhill Housing Cooperative carried a motion directing that the Mandate for the Youth Committee be approved. The Mandate may be found under Section 9.