Canada: Study shows affordability gap rising between housing co-ops and market rentals

ONTARIO-Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada [CHF Canada] days ago a new research report dubbed “The Co-op Difference: Comparing co-op and market rents in five Canadian cities”.

Produced by housing researchers Greg Suttor, Chidom Otogwu and Nick Falvo, the report established that housing charges in co-ops have been consistently lower than rents in comparable buildings in the private market, and that the gap widened over the 16-year study period.

The report says while in the early years, the co-op housing costs were, on average, C$150-200 less per month than similar market rental buildings, this gap widened to upwards of C$400-500 per month in the later years in all cities, except in Edmonton where the gap is more modest.

The authors of the study examined public investment in maintaining or building new housing co-ops in cities where the cost of home ownership and market renting has skyrocketed.

In 2019, the average monthly rent for a one-bedroom in a co-op was C$560 lower than in a market rental building. Before that, until 2016, the average monthly rent was only C$260 lower in a co-op building compared with a market rental one. For a two-bedroom, the gap between co-op and market units widened from C$450 to over C$900.

The report had input from regional groups that advocate for protecting existing co-ops and building new ones as a way of providing affordable housing.

Vancouver’s market rents were the highest of the five cities, being typically five percent higher than Toronto for one-bedroom apartments to 20 percent higher than Toronto for two-bedroom ones.

It comes as average market rental costs continue to go up in Metro Vancouver with interest rates rising and vacancy rates very tight. In November, the average one-bedroom rental unit in Metro went up C$61 from the previous month to hit an annual high of C$2,317 per month,

Both co-op and market rents in Victoria were 10 to 12 percent lower than the average seen in the five cities. But as market rents have increased, a similar dynamic has happened. The average monthly one-bedroom co-op rent went from being about C$160 lower than market initially to being almost C$400 lower by 2019-21. For two-bedroom units, the gap stretched from C$200 initially to over C$600 in more recent years.

“Because of the relative affordability of co-ops, the cost to government of supporting low-income households in co-op housing is much lower than supporting those same households in the private market,” said Thom Armstrong, CEO of the Co-operative Housing Federation of British Columbia.

Source: CHF Canada

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