Peterborough Student Housing Co-op hosted its Annual General Meeting (AGM) March 15. After several years trying to establish itself, this AGM occurred as the Co-op is gaining momentum quickly — there was much to ponder at the meeting.

In case the name was insufficiently clear about the group’s purpose, PSC works towards securing, running and maintaining student housing, housed, run and owned by students along co-operative principles. Initially, the Co-op was established in order to purchase Peter Robinson college as Trent began to sell the college off.

In 2015, a proposed to deal to buy back the college collapsed, when its owner sold it before alumni had been able to raise the required $1 million. Since then, then Co-op has focused on housing rights and education for students.
The recent AGM, among other things, would resolve the question of where PSC is going. After six months’ hard work with members from Toronto-based Campus Co-operative Residence (CCRI) and Waterloo Co-operative Residence (WCRI), PSC had viable options for its future to vote on. Above all, a plan for buying a house with CCRI.

The Peterborough housing market has presented a serious obstacle to the Co-op’s lofty plans. While it obviously takes time to save up for a down-payment, the housing market’s volatility presents the problem that the longer you save, the further away you actually get from owning a home, as house prices rise sharply and the money needed for a down-payment rises, too. Indeed, the cost of purchasing a home in Peterborough increased 30% from 2016-2017.

As part of Student Co-operative Properties (SCP), the two CCRI members offered a proposal to PSC. CCRI would pay 90% of the down-payment, leaving PSC with the other 10%, which it would then pay back over 25 years. This would allow PSC to realize its goal of operating a house now and resolve the problem of a continually escalating housing market.

This plan was presented to vote at Thursday’s meeting, as well as the option of saving for a down-payment. In this option, while it would take much longer, PSC would in theory be able to afford paying for a house itself, without external assistance.

For a levy group, this was a well-attended AGM. Interested, passionate conversation ensued between board members and the Co-op’s members — levy-paying students.

Members ultimately voted to endorse SCP’s plan for buying a house and will now wait to see if the proposal passes at CCRI’s AGM, although PSC is optimistic. PSC now faces the daunting prospect of acquiring a site and then filling the house for September, but it is a task its board and staff are excited about.

The Co-op is on its way to owning what it hopes is its first housing site and towards to realising a dream of student-owned and operated housing. Want to follow this progress or get involved? Find out more at http://www.ptbocoop.org/.