When was the last time your board discussed your building’s curb appeal? How about its approach to water conservation?
These are good questions to ask, and they’re good examples of what the Agency had in mind when we developed our online Self Assessment.
This tool will guide you through five key areas that are important to your co-op’s operations: governance, social inclusion, financial viability, asset management and sustainability.
In the governance domain, the Self Assessment helps you delve into your co-op’s governance structures, decision-making processes and approach to member engagement. For social inclusion, you’ll assess your inclusivity by exploring diversity practices and community engagement initiatives.
In the section on financial viability, questions focus on financial planning, budgeting and long-term sustainability, while in the asset management section, you’ll be thinking about maintenance strategies, capital planning and risk management.
Finally, the sustainability section asks about your co-op’s environmentally friendly practices and energy efficiency.
Taken together, the questions your co-op answers will give you a 360o view of your operations. Beyond that, they’ll paint a picture of where you’re doing well and where there is room to improve.
For co-ops in the Rental Assistance Program (FCHI-2), the questionnaire links directly to an online tool for creating, filing and updating the Action Plan that your co-op must maintain as a program requirement.
By answering these questions together as a board or with your staff or members, you’ll get a clearer picture of where your co-op is. Knowing this will help you decide where you want to go.
At least, that’s what members at the Charles Hastings Housing Co-operative told us.
Charles Hastings is a 91-unit co-op located in Toronto, ON. Its board members found that completing the questionnaire shone a light on lesser-known aspects of both the building and the co-op’s operations.
“It’s one thing to live in a building, and it’s another thing entirely to know how the building physically operates and everything that goes into maintaining it,” said Lloyd Lipinski, president of the co-op’s board.
Lipinski said that they shared the questionnaire with board members in advance and asked them to review it. Once they all had a chance to look at the questions, the board came together to complete the questionnaire.
All in all, completing it together took them a little over an hour.
Now, the directors are transforming the questionnaire into a survey they can pass along to members for direct input on what the co-op is doing and how they’re doing it.
What advice would they share with other co-ops working through the questionnaire?
“Take your time,” said Ellen Hill, the board’s vice-president. “Plan at least one or two sessions for the board to really go through it in detail and talk about the questions you’re answering.
“It’s not just about checking off boxes, it’s a tool for taking a closer look at your home,” Hill said.
Want more information? Check out our tutorial video on the Self-Assessment Questionnaire and Action Plans tools or contact your co-op’s rental assistance officer.