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Ontario court approves plan to save 131 units of affordable housing in Windsor area

October 19, 2012 (Windsor) – The Co‑operative Housing Federation of Canada (CHF Canada) announced today that an Ontario court has approved its plan to continue using the assets of Bridlewood Housing Co‑operative for non-profit housing. This will preserve a valuable source of affordable housing, and block repeated attempts by Bridlewood’s resident members to purchase the homes for themselves at well below market prices. In an October 19 ruling strongly in favour of CHF Canada’s bid, the court accepted the recommendation of the court-appointed receiver to sell the housing units to a non-profit corporation set up by CHF Canada. Justice Brown’s decision noted that 2,019 households are on the waiting list for social housing in the Windsor area, which includes the Town of Essex. “An unsatisfied demand for social housing obviously exists in the area.”

The decision concludes that the CHF Canada bid is the only one “which aims to preserve the availability of a large block of affordable housing in the Town of Essex” noting that it includes a modest but significant security of tenure fund and a promise to work with the receiver to obtain government rent supplements.

“This sets a very important legal precedent,” said CHF Canada’s lawyer, Basil Alexander. “It will help preserve vital affordable housing stock across the country.”

CHF Canada’s Executive Director, Nicholas Gazzard called the court decision a “key victory” noting that “Bridlewood is a community housing asset and it’s vital that it continue to serve future generations in need of affordable rental housing.”

Bridlewood is a 131-unit non-profit housing co operative developed in the mid-1970s with federal government funding. For the past 16 years the co op has repeatedly attempted to sell the units to the resident members at less than half of market value. In the latest scheme, the co op stopped paying its mortgage in 2010. CHF Canada believes that the co‑op hoped to trigger a mass sale of the houses by the lender to recover what was owed. This would have depressed the market and reduced the price members would have to pay to buy their houses. CHF Canada took legal action in 2011 to prevent this from happening and convinced the court to put the co‑op into receivership to protect the assets. The Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) that regulates co‑operative corporations in the province supported CHF Canada in the court case as it had in earlier rounds of legal action on Bridlewood.

“This has been a long and costly fight for us but it’s one that our member co‑ops have been determined to win,” said Dale Reagan, Managing Director of CHF Canada’s Ontario Region. “They see the self-serving track record of Bridlewood’s members as a betrayal of the co‑op’s social purpose. This landmark decision means that 131 units of affordable housing have been preserved and we have avoided the very damaging precedent that would have been set if members had been able to enrich themselves with the public investment in non-profit housing.”

Reagan said that the job now is to make up for many years of deferred maintenance and lack of repairs and restore the housing to an acceptable standard for the residents. He noted that CHF Canada will also move immediately to get rent supplements from the City of Windsor and take other steps to help ensure that the housing remains affordable to low-income residents.

CHF Canada is the national voice of the Canadian co‑operative housing movement. Its members include over 900 non-profit housing co‑operatives and other organizations across Canada. More than a quarter of a million Canadians live in housing co‑ops, in every province and territory.

For more information:

Dale Reagan, Managing Director, CHF Canada Ontario Region, 1-800-268-2537 ext. 223, dreagan@chfcanada.coop

Scott Jackson, Program Manager, National Communications, 1-877-533-2667 ext. 122, sjackson@chfcanada.coop