Multi-stakeholder Co-operatives and OGHC

What is a “stakeholder” in a co-operative setting?

A stakeholder group is a collection of members who share a common interest in the success of an activity, project or organization. In our case, the stakeholders all have an interest in Old Grace Housing Co-operative being a successful organization that will provide housing for members now and into the future.

Are multi-stakeholder co-operatives common?

Yes, this governance structure is commonly used by worker co-operatives (for example, workers and customers), by producer co-ops, and retail co-ops. Section 12 of the The Cooperatives Act of Manitoba lays out the rules for how multi-stakeholder co-operatives must be organized.

What are the elements of the Board’s Multi-Stakeholder Proposal?

The board of directors is proposing the creation of two categories of members (or to use the language of The Cooperatives Act, two classes of members):

Residents
  • Members who are moving into the building when it is completed
  • Residents would elect nine of the ten members of the OGHC Board of Directors.
Supporters
  • Members who are on the waiting list for a suite, and
  • Members who do not plan to move into the co-op but have supported the development of OGHC, and wish to do so in future.
  • Supporters would be able to attend and participate in OGHC membership meetings and elect one of the ten members of the OGHC Board of Directors.

The Registrar of Cooperatives has to approve the governance structure.

How are most housing co-operatives structured?

Most housing co-ops have only one category of member, namely the residents. People who want to live in the co-op pay an application fee to have their name put on the waiting list for a unit. While on the waiting list, applicants are not considered members and cannot participate in the affairs of the co-op.

How is OGHC currently structured?

Every person who has joined OGHC has paid for one refundable $50 Member Share and has the same status – we are technically all “interim members.”

If OGHC does not become a multi-stakeholder co-operative, only those interim members who become residents will become full members. Those interim members who do not become residents will cease to be members, but will retain a spot on a waiting list.

What are the benefits?

With 60 housing units, OGHC will be a relatively small co-op (we will probably have about 80 adult residents).

Having a Supporter class lets Residents draw on the accumulated knowledge and expertise of many more individuals when advice or support is needed. It enhances the co-op’s connections to the larger community through the Supporters’ networks and relationships. Supporters would benefit by being able to participate in the growth and development of a community that many of them will move into one day.

The Cooperatives Act can be found here.