In 1913 the short-lived Toronto Housing Corporation financed the building of two low-income housing complexes for working-class Torontonians. Along with the Spruce Court apartments the Riverdale Courts (Later known as the Bain Co-ops) were built for local working people who suffered from poor, cramped living conditions and increasing rent. Inspired by the, then popular, Garden City Movement, both complexes were designed so that each apartment contained direct access to green communal courtyards.
In the early 1970s, residents of the Riverdale Courts were again confronted with deteriorating housing conditions. In 1972, the Bain Avenue Tenants Association was formed to pressure their landlord to pay for necessary repairs. The new association was successful at forcing the landlord to institute repairs but in response the landlord raised their rents. So, in 1974, the tenants association founded the Bain Apartments Co-operative Inc., and over the next five years local organizers fought to acquire government funding to transform their apartments into a co-operative.
Residents, however, had trouble agreeing over the correct path to creating their co-op. Initially the city took ownership of the building, but it proved to be a terrible landlord and imposed drastic rent increases on residents. Eventually a group within the Tenants Association decided that they should protest the rent increase by refusing to pay it. This idea was, however, decisively voted down at an Association meeting. Opponents thought that the tactic would negatively impact the chance that the city would transfer ownership of the building to their co-op. In the end the group in favour of the rent freeze was defeated and in October 1977 Bain residents received ownership of their co-op.
In 2013 the Riverdale Courts/Bain Co-op celebrated its 100-year anniversary.
Jamie Bradburn, "A Century of "Homes for the People" at Bain Co-op and Spruce Court," (Torontoist, Sept 11, 2013), http://torontoist.com/2013/09/a-century-of-homes-for-the-people-at-bain-co-op-and-spruce-court/
Ulli Diemer, "Bain Co-op meets Wages for Housework: A Political Thriller," The Red Menace, Vol 2 no. 1 (Summer 1977).