The Co-operative Development Initiative

| Government |

When I last wrote about the Co-op Development
Initiative, I mentioned our great pleasure at the Initiative’s four-year
renewal by the federal government. This $19.1 million contribution to the
Canadian co-op sector is invaluable – it allows, for example, BCCA’s Advisory
Service program for emerging co-ops to continue; and, through the Innovative
Co-operative Program (ICP) component of the CDI, it provides substantial,
multi-year grants to more established co-ops.

BCCA had expected to be able to profile some of
the successful ICP applicants in this issue of the Co-op Perspective. Although the 54 successful co-ops have received
notice directly from the Minister, and some have signed contribution
agreements, public acknowledgement must wait for formal announcements from
Minister Blackburn. We expect these announcements to be made by the Minister at
a series of press conferences, in several regions of the country, including
British Columbia, between now and the end of March. Until then, little more can
be said. We can, however, point to a success rate in the July 31 ICP
competition of about 28%.

We can also share with you that the December 31,
2009, CDI deadline produced a total of 105 applications, a substantial number,
but down from the previous 194. Again, applications from BC were well represented
among the total – Quebec submitted the greatest number, at 30; BC, with 19
submissions, traded its previous second place with Ontario, which has 22. With
about 18% of the total however, BC is still over-represented on a per capita
basis. The co-ops applying have a rich range of projects in mind – from urban
health service co-ops to big-scale ski hill initiatives, and from enhancements
to the economic base of intentional communities in the countryside to seeding a
new shellfish industry among Aboriginal communities on the BC coast.

How
do things stand with the current round of ICP evaluations?

The evaluation ICP process is moving along
smoothly. Every effort is being made by the Ottawa team to streamline the
process: staff are now reviewing the submissions, the reviewed files will be
considered by the program’s external Adjudication Committee in early March; and
formal approval by the Minister is expected by the end of April. We wish all
applicants good luck.

Much
more about the CDI can be found on our website (www.bcca.coop) and on the newly expanded
website of the Canadian Cooperative Association at http://cccm.coopscanada.coop/en. There, you will find
revised application forms, an applicant’s guide and other useful documents, all
available for immediate download. The
next ICP deadline is likely to be around July 31, 2010, but the precise date is
still to be clarified. Thankfully, we have been assured by our colleagues in Ottawa that there will never again be a grant deadline on New
Year’s Eve!

As with the first two
rounds, BCCA will be able to offer, at no cost, a review service to BC
applicants. Details on this service, along with other current news, will be
posted on the BCCA website.

BCCA’s Advisory Services
Program

The Advisory Services program is intended to
assist start-up co-ops to make sense of the basic issues that must be engaged
with as the vision of the group takes
shape on its way to becoming a reality.
Because BCCA staff don’t have the time needed to deal with all enquiries, we work
closely with a group of co-op developers and often match co-op proponents with
a consultant who may be based in Vancouver or, more conveniently, in a
community closer to the co-op’s location.  

BCCA’s advisory
service provides up to two hours of consulting time – at no cost to the group
members! – and assists emerging co-ops through the sequence of steps leading to
incorporation and launch of the business. During the last twelve months, well
over 100 groups have been assisted.

If you are interested
in this service, or know of people who might be, all you have to do is get in
touch with the office by phone or e-mail. We can get the consulting process
going very quickly.

Rick Marcuse

Director of Co-operative Development