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Sunny Days Housing Co‑operative

Good Practices in Replacement Reserve Contributions and Balance

“Running a co‑op is running a business.”

Who We Are

Sunny Days is a housing co‑operative in Vancouver’s False Creek area. The co‑op has 79 units, including four disabled units. It is wood-frame construction.

Our Story

Our co‑op was one of BC’s leaky co‑ops, but our problems went further than building envelope failure. The co‑op had relied on volunteer labor for repairs and maintenance for many years and had routinely purchased the cheapest products and services.

We knew we needed to make urgent repairs to the building membrane but found we didn’t have sufficient funds. We had never made any significant contributions to our capital replacement reserve fund. Housing charges had been kept low, many members were in arrears, and some were not paying at all.

Housing charges were increased in the first year and have gone up 2% to 3.5% each year since. Member arrears were paid back within the year, and the co‑op had to charge all members a levy to help cover the cost of urgent repairs. Further, our capital reserve plan was renewed with contributions of $220,000 to $260,000 per year ($2,784–$3,291 per unit). As a result, our co‑op has gone from high to above-average to low risk.

As well as building up our reserves, we’ve been able to make significant capital repairs to the building. In addition to the membrane-repair work, we’ve installed a new roof, replaced fridges and flooring, painted the exterior and installed safety gates at the parking garage and entryway. We were also able to secure additional funding, including a federal retrofit grant. We have contracted professional repair and maintenance services, rather than letting members do the work. We also no longer purchase the cheapest products automatically but will buy mid-range appliances, for example, if they will stand up better and last longer. We also developed a replacement plan to ensure that we will have the funds available when repairs and replacements are needed.

We use our general meetings as an opportunity to make members aware of the need to plan and budget for replacements. Housing charges are still at the low end of market but members are no longer paying extremely low charges. Members feel more secure living in a well-maintained building and appreciate it.

Capital Reserve Contributions and Balance Year by Year

    2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
Annual contributions per unit   $2,677 $3,128 $3,144 $3,000 $3,291
Balance at year end per unit   $2,985 $5,008 $6,769 $7,492 $9,031

How Could We Have Done Better?

  • We should have started putting money in our reserves earlier.
  • We should not have relied on volunteers to do repairs and maintenance.

What Others Can Learn from the Sunny Days Story

  • Use comprehensive inspections and engineering studies to develop a long-term replacement plan.
  • Don’t rely on members doing repair work; hire a professional.
  • Make planning decisions in an open and transparent way so that members are well-informed and understand the need for reserves.


Co‑op name: Sunny Days
Location: Vancouver, BC
Program: Section 95
Number of Units: 79
Unit Type: Apartments
Date of Occupancy: 1984
Management Model: Management Company