People’s Co-op Book Store gets a reprieve
Last month, thePeople’s Co-op Book Store in Vancouver issued a notice stating that they would be going out of business at the end of this month. Founded in 1945, the bookstore moved to Commercial Drive in 1983 and has been an important part of the Drive’s cultural heritage for thirty-five years. The Co-op recently held a Special General Meeting to discuss the situation. The Co-op now has more than 800 members and had perhaps its busiest Christmas season ever last month. However, like many small businesses, the Co-op has always been short of capital. In the Co-op’s case, this has meant a smaller than required operating line of credit leading to problems with ordering books from publishers. According to a recent posting on a web site, there was a definite desire from the members attending the meeting to see the store keep operating. Enough money was raised at the meeting to pay the rent and operating expenses for February. A few new Board members were added who plan to work hard to set in place a more secure financing plan for the future.
Clock ticking on plans for food co-op on Vancouver Island
The clock is ticking for the Community Created Agriculture Co-operative (CCAC) in its plans to create a large-scale food production co-op in the Comox Valley, on Vancouver Island. The CCAC has plans to buy a local farm and convert it into an agricultural co-operative. The co-op’s goal is to produce, process, preserve, store and deliver organicfood to 300 pre-paid subscribers in the Comox Valley. The co-op would operate under community-supported agriculture principles, in which people pay in advance for a pre-specified amount of food. Their money in turn funds the production costs. Last summer, the production group behind the CCAC — made up of about a dozen farmers, scientists, and other Comox Valley residents interested in the project — aimed to buy a 56-acre plot of land located behind the Wal-Mart in Courtenay and convert it into an agricultural co-op. But the down payment for the farm is due March 1, and there are reports that the group is no closer to purchasing it than they were four months ago, despite securing a purchase agreement with the landowner in August. The group’s crowdfunding campaign to raise $300,000 for the down payment failed to garner much support last fall. On a more positive note, the CCAC was able to become incorporated in December, meaning the group can now apply for funds from the B.C. government to prepare a business plan. Despite the lack of progress thus far in financing the initiative, organizers remain optimistic in the dream of establishing the Comox Valley’s first large-scale agricultural co-operative.
Alberta egg processor co-op gets cracking with safety certification
When you think of eggs going to market, you might think of consumers in the grocery store putting a dozen or two eggs in their cart and heading home. But most of the eggs at the grocery store are the large or extra-large grades, which leaves a significant surplus of lower-demand eggs in the small- to medium-size category. Alberta’s surplus small and medium eggs used to be shipped to processing facilities in Manitoba or British Columbia, causing that economic value to leave the province. But that changed, when the Egg Processing Innovations Co-op opened the province’s first egg-breaking operation. Now Alberta breaks its own eggs and keeps that economic value in Alberta. EPIC’s member-owners are 140 egg farmers across the province, with an average flock size of 11,000 hens. This co-op offers its western Canadian food service and manufacturing customers a wide variety of products, including whole liquid eggs, egg whites, egg yolks, and shells. These egg products are used in salad dressings, baked goods, pasta, Asian noodles, functional foods, natural health products, and premium pet foods. The co-op has recently completed a food safety project through the Food Safety Systems Program. It has helped the co-op gain industry accreditation, and this certification positions the co-op for further growth.
Group of Saskatchewan credit unions are included in a partnership with credit union giant Desjardins
The consolidation in the credit union movement is continuing. The latest move sees Quebec credit union Desjardins Group partnering with five credit union centrals across the country—including in Saskatchewan—and insurer Cumis Group Ltd. to form Aviso Wealth, with more than $55 billion in combined client assets. Aviso Wealth will be jointly owned by Desjardins and a limited partnership, including the Credit Union Central of Saskatchewan, the Atlantic Central, Central 1 Credit Union, the Credit Union Central of Manitoba, the Credit Union Central of Alberta and Cumis. Credit Union Central of Saskatchewan—also known as SaskCentral—is owned by the province’s 46 credit unions. SaskCentral CEO Keith Nixon said the move is about offering “a more integrated and stronger wealth management offering for credit union members. It’s an example of the cooperative credit union system nationally coming together and bringing scale and capability to an offering that is more competitive to other financial providers in the community, Nixon said. The credit union centrals represent about 300 credit unions across Canada. Ontario-based Cumis is owned jointly by Co-operators Life Insurance Co. and Central 1 Credit Union.