Waterloo Co-operative Residence Incorporated
Waterloo Co-operative Residence Incorporated, also known as WCRI, is a non-profit student housing co-operative located in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. It is owned by its residents, who are mostly students at the University of Waterloo, Wilfrid Laurier University, or Conestoga College. The co-op can accommodate over 900 residents in its dormitories and apartments, making it the second-largest organization of its kind in North America. Overall, it has over 2000 members. It is a founding member of the Ontario Student Co-operative Association and the North American Students of Cooperation.
Properties and accommodation
WCRI is organized into seven semi-autonomous divisions: three are dormitories and four are apartment buildings. The dormitory divisions are Phillip North(A1/A2), Phillip South (A3/A4), and Hammar, and the apartment divisions are Carver, Clayfield, Kershaw, and B-Division.
As a co-operative, WCRI is a representative democracy. The members elect a board of ten directors to oversee the business and affairs of the corporation. Elections take place every twelve months, with directors holding office for one-year terms. The board selects an Executive Director (ED) who hires staff to assist in the ED's business operations, based on a policy governance model. The board sets the board policy, while the Executive Director in consultation with staff including resident student CEGS implement staff policies.
In addition, there are a number of decentralized decision-making bodies within the co-op structure; such as, Division Councils, Division Social Councils, Interdivision Social Council, Interdivision Council, and a variety of potential committees for activities such as sports, social outreach, and environmental. The Social Councils organize social events of various sizes, while division council must approve social spending for their division, and may also have the ability to make small purchases - this amount is relatively small usually not amounting to more than a couple hundred dollars per term on average. Interdivision council has the ability to fund larger projects which will cost over $1000; while interdivision social council (IDSC) usually has the capacity to throw a few good sized events. Fresh week - WCRI's frosh is also a somewhat regular mainstay, and is a type of orientation week and general social for members.
The history of WCRI began in September 1964 with the founding of the Waterloo division of Campus Co-operative Residence Incorporated in Toronto. Due to changes in the National Housing Act, student housing co-operatives were able to apply for financing from Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation. Initially, two separate houses on University Avenue in Waterloo accommodated twenty-seven male and nine female students, though meals were taken together at the men's house. One cook was hired, but all other work was done by the members.
Expansion was the word of the day in the early years of the co-op and by September 1966, more than 200 students lived in various WCRI accommodations. In addition to owning several houses, the co-op had built a four-storey dormitory called Hammar, the first such building in North America to be built, owned, and operated by students. At this point, full-time staff were beginning to be hired to handle various administrative matters.
In January 1969, the co-op completed the construction of two new dormitory divisions and an apartment division on Phillip Street. The former were called Phillip North and South, and the latter was simply called the Apartment Division. At this time, resident membership surpassed 600, including some members who still lived in houses.
In 1976, the last of the houses were sold off, beginning what could be thought of as the modern era of WCRI. This also coincided with significant changes to the organizational structure of the co-op, creating a complex hierarchy of decentralized decision-making bodies.
In 1986, the co-op undertook the construction of three new apartment divisions on Phillip Street, next to the existing property, named Carver, Clayfield, and Kershaw. The existing Apartment Division was renamed B-Division to disambiguate.
In 1993, the co-operative used some empty space in the basement of Clayfield to open an English-style pub called Weavers' Arms. The pub was financially unsuccessful year after year, despite several attempts at revitalization, and was permanently closed in August 2004; however, is still available for social events - although only currently serves alcohol under event specific liquor licenses rather than a commercial site license. WCRI policy is generally not to allocate funds for purchases of alcohol, however in event planning for the 2008 Fresh Week, two liquor licensed events were planned - a Kegger and a Monte Carlo night. There are hopes from some members to see the location serve a variety of ongoing usages; however currently requires booking in advance of event with a member(s) responsible for the establishment during events, in general supplied for the membership rather than for commercial reasons.
In 2005, Hammar underwent a comprehensive redevelopment project, with two floors reopened in September 2005 and the remaining two in January 2006.
- Waterloo Co-operative Residence Incorporated
- Ontario Student Co-operative Association
- WCRI Online Community