Capital Investment Co-op proposed for local housing project
Local capital investment for local initiatives is behind a proposal for a 55-plus (aged) housing project in Falher.
“The ultimate goal is to establish the vehicle, that is the investment of choice for local citizens,” says Jennifer Moore, the Smoky River regional economic development officer, who is assisting the Capital Investment Co-op of Smoky River with the project.
Local money would stay locally, and it would allow investment into local projects.
“I want to see growth in the region,” says Lorraine Desaulniers, who is also working on the project.
“It was identified as an opportunity to retain capital in the community. The concept of unleashing local capital will allow us to realize our potential."
"Rather than waiting for outside investors to develop housing and business projects, we will take the initiative to do it ourselves."
As part of the plan, the Capital Investment Co-op of Smoky River would be created. It would be the springboard for not just the 55-plus housing project, but for other projects as well.
To determine the formulation of the project, Desaulniers and the champion team held a meeting at the Falher Regional Recreation Complex Aug. 13. They explained the concept and asked attendees to fill out a survey, which they will use as part of the project proposal.
They also held a question and answer session with attendees.
To get the ball rolling for the Capital Investment Co-op, a committee of eight was formed and with the assistance of Moore and Diane Chiasson of the Conseil de developpement economique de l’Alberta.
They worked on an application with the Alberta Community and Co-operatives Association for a $60,000 grant.
The grant was submitted May 1 and was successfully accepted on May 29.
The committee members are Luc Desaulniers, Lorraine Desaulniers, Andre Berube, Albert Lemire, Jean Lemire, Rachelle Berube, Paulette Gosselin and Donald Gosselin.
Part of the money will be used for a feasibility study for the 55-plus housing project. The rest will be used to establish the Capital Investment Co-op, so it can attract financing for the housing project and other projects.
Desaulniers and her group are working on a plan for the land for the 55-plus housing project, but no details were available at press time.
Also attending the meeting was Shelagh Thurlbeck. She runs SMT Consulting in Spruce Grove and was hired to do the feasibility study for the 55-plus housing project.
Thurlbeck explained she will be holding future meetings in Donnelly, Falher, Girouxville and McLennan in an effort to get feedback from residents about the project.
Also during the meeting, Paul Cabaj, the director of co-op development, discussed ways to unleash local capital through Registered Retirement Savings Plans.
“Your money stays local and the investment is RRSP eligible,” says Cabaj.
He had a brochure entitled ‘Unleashing Local Capital’ to hand out. It outlined the definition of a community investment fund as a vehicle which provides local investors with an opportunity to invest their savings into businesses in their own community, enabling them to participate in local business growth and their own community revitalization.
The brochure explains, in order to form a community investment fund, it is necessary to:
. Form a local investment committee to identify investment opportunities.
. Raise local capital by offering shares in the CIF (RRSP eligible).
. Make sound and prudent investment decisions.
. Provide financing through your CIF to a local business.
More information can be found at www.acca.coop/unleashing.
Dan Ohler, the co-op development officer for the ACCA, shared some examples of how such investments have been made in other communities.
One was Westlock Terminals, a grain terminal in Westlock. It faced foreclosure in the early 2000’s before a group of local residents banded together to keep it open.
He also highlighted the Battle River Railway, which runs between Camrose and Alliance. CN Rail was going to close the rail line. But local farmers and business people bought the rail line and a locomotive to keep it going.