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General News · 3rd February 2014
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We are pleased to announce the launch of a $200,000 capital campaign to acquire the property on which the Co-op store has stood for most of its 10-year history. Founded by and for Cortes Islanders, the co-op now has a membership of about 800, of which approximately 500 are full-time residents. Since many of these memberships are for families rather than individuals, more than half the year-round population enjoys member benefits; many non-members also visit our cafe and shop at the store, particularly in the summer.

The present Board and staff are pleased and proud to see the store continuing to realise our founding mission: the provision of healthy and organic food to Cortes Islanders, along with living-wage jobs, a convivial community hub, and a market for local produce and products. Our members have consistently voted to acquire this property if possible; the present Board agrees that it's a wise move, to ensure a secure long-term location so that we can continue to serve our community for many years to come. The campaign to acquire the property was officially launched at the January 23rd meeting.

We'd like to thank the CNFC members who came out on such a cold and foggy night - and especially all the generous folks who contributed to our property fund that evening. For those of our members who were unable to attend, and for all our friends and neighbours who are curious to know what's happening with the Co-op, the property at 800 Sutil Point Road, etc. - here is a report on the member meeting held Jan 23 at Mansons Hall.

The meeting began with brief presentations from the Board and the General Manager, followed by general Q&A, then a presentation by the Fund Raising Committee. The meeting concluded with baked goods, coffee, signups, pledges, and general conversation.

Highlights of the meeting:

Status of the store and cafe: our sales each month from last summer all the way through December have been about 10 percent higher than the corresponding months a year earlier. Although some decline has been experienced by many businesses on the island from 2012-2013, the Co-op experienced growth both in store and cafe receipts. In keeping with our organisational mission, most of our profits are re-invested in our community in the form of living-wage jobs and local contract work, and in keeping the cafe open as a social resource for the island during the lean winter months.

Land purchase: thanks to the store's improved finances, it seems likely that a conventional lender will give us a mortgage for more than a third of the purchase price; but the membership will need to cooperate to raise the rest. A funding plan developed with the help of consultant Meaghan Cursons was presented (and is available at the website http://www.cortescoop.ca ). While the School District is not pushing for an immediate resolution, they have let us know that they'd like to see some progress in the next few months; so we have formed a Fund Raising Committee to lead the effort.

Fundraising: the “piggy bank” being built up from donations at the till is growing slowly but steadily; now it's time for a more active campaign. The Fund Raising Committee presented their plan for engaging members and friends in the property purchase. The fundraising campaign was officially launched with the display of a large-scale map of the property divided into 1-meter squares – if every square is adopted by a member or friend at $20/square, the property can be purchased without a debt burden, and this is the Committee's goal. Members present at the meeting gave pledges which doubled our property fund on the spot.

Members and friends who were unable to attend this meeting, but would like to learn more about the land purchase effort or the fundraising drive, are invited to contact the Board (boardcortescoop.ca) or the Committee (fundraisingcortescoop.ca).

-- The CNFC Board