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A BRIEF HISTORY OF BROOKSFORD PLACE HOUSING CO-OP

Brooksford Place had a rather unique beginning. The townhouse development began in 1976 when an entrepreneur saw possibilities in an abandoned gravel pit. He built the housing complex, in which we live, but his premature death changed the picture; and eventually the development came onto the open market. 

With the early encouragement of Rev. Al Unrau and Earl Finlay of Abbotsford Co-op Villa Nootka Landing Co-op (which Brooksford Place was first named) got off the ground in the summer and fall of 1979. Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) had acquired the property of 51 townhouse units and were holding it for resale when Rev. Unrau began promoting the idea of developing it as a co-operative.

At this time, the Columbia Housing Advisory Association became interested in assisting in the forming of another housing co-op in this area. They helped with the organizational meetings in August, September and October, 1979, with the invaluable help of Elaine Duvall of CHAA Most members moved in November and December 1979, and every unit was occupied by the time formal transfer of ownership was accomplished on March 1, 1980. At that time, it was decided to change the name Nootka Landing Co-op to Brooksford Place Housing Co-op. taking its name from Clearbrook Village and nearby Abbotsford. 

Originally the office was in Unit 5, and there were no fences separating us from Clearbrook Village. The Co-op was patrolled day and night by security guards with a dog.

The official opening took place on June 1, 1980; and in attendance were the mayors of Matsqui and Abbotsford, as well as other officials. The Master of Ceremonies was the Vice-President of the Board, Frank Golightly, who, with his wife Megan, lived in the Co-op for several years.

Other members who lived here from the beginning and who some of us older-timers remember, were George Patterson, Dutchie Howard, Hanni Oestereich and Frieda Kisser (who lived here until 2022). 

The first 2-3 years, residents were seniors only. Then in 1983, the structure was changed and families of all ages, including children, began to move in. After 1983 you will notice children in the photos for the first time, and family activities began.

 Soon after the official opening, plans were underway to build a recreation centre which we now call the Hall. The minutes of the General Meeting held July 28, 1980, stated: “The meeting was called to consider a possible recreation building,” and further in the same minutes, “that we give approval to the building plans as presented.” The Co-op Newsletter of September, 1980, stated. “Matsqui Council has passed our plans for a recreational building.” The Hall was completed in the spring of 1981.

As the building of the recreation hall was being completed, a seniors group was formed. They applied for a New Horizons grant (a Federal Government program for seniors) for hall furnishings. From the minutes of the General Meeting of December 9, 1981, “It was noted that with the grant of approximately $11,000 from New Horizons, the following equipment has been purchased: 60 chairs, 10 large tables, kitchen equipment, table tennis table and billiard table… as well as items for the workshop and a piano. 

In later years, there were some major happenings: first in 1990 was the re-roofing of all the units; and second in the spring of 1992 was the covering of the deteriorating wood siding with vinyl siding. In 1993, the carport roofs were re-surfaced and new carpets were put in living dining and hallway areas. A new children’s playground was built. In 1995, the fencing was replaced; and a 5-year plan was put into place for the replacement of bathrooms and kitchen appliances, counters and cupboards as needed.. (This was done in subsequent years).

However, Brooksford Place Co-op is more the story of people. Over the years, many people have come here for a time, finding the Co-op a safe haven, and then moved on. Others have remained and are glad to be here. Most have given of their time and talents along the way. doing their share in ensuring Brooksford Place Housing Co-op is, and continues to be, a good place to live.