Things are about to change for Oak Street Housing Co‑operative in downtown Toronto. This 149-unit community has secured a $7.5 million loan from Alterna Savings credit union through CHF Canada’s Refinancing Program
These changes will improve members’ quality of life and support accessibility and aging in place, issues that Oak Street, like many other co‑ops, take very seriously. This Toronto co‑op has an Aging in Place committee, and has hired an accessibility consultant to oversee renovations.
The money will be used to replace elevators and rebuild a ramp to its inner courtyard, as well as appliances, windows, doors, kitchens and bathrooms (after paying out the co‑op’s existing CMHC mortgage).
This is the largest loan completed to date through CHF Canada’s Refinancing Program. So far, 19 Section 95 co‑ops representing more than 1,100 units have refinanced through the program, totalling $53,400,000 in loans through partner credit unions.
Brian Eng is a member of CHF Canada’s Board of Directors and a former member of Oak Street. He points to this refinancing deal as “an example par excellence” of “building partnerships within the co‑operative movement.”
CHF Canada Program Manager, Refinancing Janet Shim says that both the board and the members of Oak Street were knowledgeable and engaged. At members’ meetings, the co‑op was full of questions and excitement. Brynne Teale, who has worked at the co‑op since it opened 32 years ago, commented, “It’s always been a very strong community. The members here have always taken leadership and taken responsibility.”
The loan promises to have an immense impact for Oak Street’s members. Shim commented that refinancing improvements make for “happy members, safer communities and overall viability of the co‑op sector. This shows that the refinancing program has the capacity to manage large-scale capital projects: the sky is the limit.”