The Co-operative Innovation Project

Collaborative, Community-Led Solutions

Co-op Development — What is that?

Co-op development: it’s a conversation. It’s about building something, together with other people, that does what you need it to do, for the people who need it.

Really, it’s that simple.

It can be helpful to get inspiration, bounce ideas, and have some support from an experienced co-op developer. They can help you navigate from inspire, through explore, to the process of creation, and into a thriving operation. Chances are, you creating something new, and thriving with it, will inspire others to do so, too.

Want to learn more about developing co-ops? Check out Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada. There, you will find a host of resources and connect to people across Canada who can you help you create what you need in order to do what you want to do.  There are provincial associations, government co-op supports, and private developers from coast to coast to coast — see below for a few more references.


We told you co-ops are cool! Check out: Co-ops Are Cool from the Ontario Co-op Association.

For those who love to watch videos:

Saskatchewan Co-op Youth Program YouTube channel

Co-ops: Stronger Together (check out their recipes!)

In an article in The Guardian, a newsmagazine out of Britain, co-ops were identified as “cool again.”


So what about some REAL co-op examples? What’s going on out there? Who is creating rural and aboriginal co-ops, and what do they look like? We’re SO glad you asked. Check these out:

Cree 8 Worker Co-op and Market Garden at Flying Dust First Nation, Saskatchewan. See a bit more about them here.

For some of the best bannock, blueberries, and co-op energy in Winnipeg, visit Neechi Commons.

The Ermineskin Rural Electric Association in Alberta brings power to regional residents.

In Tofino, BC, the Tofino Co-op has it all!

Co-operatives are well-supported in Canada’s fishing industries. See for example Northwest Co-operative Fisheries Ltd. in Manitoba.

If you’re up in Pinehouse Lake, Saskatchewan, you’ll be checking out Pinehouse Lake Co-op.

The Rossland Radio Co-op in British Columbia is keeping the airwaves humming.

If you live close by, the Kootenay Bakery Cafe is the last word in great baking — including gluten free and specialty diet services.

The Community First Health Co-op is your passport to wellness in Nelson, BC.

The Laughing Coyote Land Co-operative is a must-read for those interested in land issues.

Food hub co-ops are barreling into the marketplace. Check out this news story from BC.

Do you look after a senior? You might be interested in thinking about Elder Care Co-ops in Canada.

A fascinating new way for communities to keep investment money in their home community is by Unleashing Local Capital through an Opportunity Development Co-operative! The latest trend in co-ops — harnessing money.

A co-op is social as much as it is economic. A superb example is the Crocus Co-op, which works to support those with mental health concerns in Saskatchewan.

Lakewood Manor is a housing co-op that caters to seniors. For a look at their goals and principles, see their website.

Co-ops can be very small, or very large. If this is your first look at co-ops, you’ll be surprised: chances are, you already are a member of a co-op, and maybe you didn’t even realize it!


There are a few experts and great initiatives out there, too:


Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada — Canada’s co-operative clearinghouse. Find all kinds of information here!

First Nations and Metis Co-operative Development Program — a new program through Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada.

Centre for the Study of Co-operatives — The University of Saskatchewan’s internationally-recognized research and study centre.

Plunkett Foundation — a UK group dedicated to creating community co-operative businesses.

Provincial Associations:

British Columbia Co-operative Association — a great resource for BC groups looking to start a co-op. Check out their hilarious videos comparing credit unions and banks!

Upper Columbia Co-operative Council — a community service co-op in partnership with BCCA, to work locally to develop new co-ops in British Columbia.

Alberta Community and Co-operative Association — where Alberta gets co-operative. Home of the Unleashing Local Capital initiative: a fantastic way to harness and direct local investment.

Saskatchewan Co-operative Association — Helping promote and support Saskatchewan’s co-ops. Some of western Canada’s early co-operative roots can be found here.

Manitoba Co-operative Association and CONSEIL DE DÉVELOPPEMENT ÉCONOMIQUE DES MUNICIPALITÉS BILINGUES DU MANITOBA — great resources for Manitobans collectively solving local problems. See also the provincial government co-op development work!

Ontario Co-operative Association — for an in-depth look at co-ops at work in Ontario

The best site to find co-op information in Quebec is je coop! Co-operative businesses are strong in Quebec.

Federation des Cooperatives du Nouveau-Quebec (FCNQ) — northern Quebec is a co-op hot zone

Nova Scotia Co-operative Council — where innovation and community are watchwords

In Newfoundland, the provincial government is a major supporter of co-op development.

The Prince Edward Island Co-operative Council works with Islanders to create co-ops

There is also a national co-op developers association which has a list of experienced co-op developers and legal counsel in most Canadian provinces. Find them at Co-op Zone and follow their links.

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