New Co-operative Hopes to Bring Stable Housing to Mahone Bay and Beyond

(Illustration: Jessie McLaughlin)

The cooperative movement in Nova Scotia has well over 150 years of history.

From the early years of coal miners organising to fruit-growers supporting each other, Nova Scotian have long seen the value in cooperatives for producers, workers and consumers. 

Mahone Bay Community Land Co-operative is trying to bring back those benefits to the South Shore by acquiring land and buildings to convert to housing units.

Co-op board member Katherine McCarron shares her outlook as a renter.

“During my lifetime, housing went from being a place to live, a place to raise a family to the best investment you ever make. Which I think is really wrong-headed. It really throws us into the crisis we have now.  A home is not an investment. It’s a place to live, create life and family and community.”

It’s been a year since the group started working on this project. They are working on a feasibility study for the old fire hall in Mahone Bay that could be retrofitted to hold 10 units according to a preliminary walk-through with an architect. 

McCarron says that would just be the beginning of the co-op’s work as they hope to work on many other projects.

On April 27, Co-op President Dean Waterfield made a presentation to the town’s council to request a letter of support for obtaining two grants to develop the co-op and conduct the feasibility study. At the May 9 council meeting, Councillor Feeney motioned to sign the letter.

During the presentation, Waterfield shared he hopes the cooperative will be in the right place to obtain funding through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation that is expected to come out this fall.

The five member board is taking on an ambitious amount of work to shape the future of non-profit housing on the South Shore. As a long-time renter and devoted retired community member, McCarron thinks the project is worth all the work they are putting in. 

“It’s a way of having hope. This is a hope that maybe we can leave something behind that is worthwhile.”


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