About Mid Island Co-op

Located on Vancouver Island, BC, Mid Island Co-op has been in business since 1959 and was created by local citizens as an alternative way to provide themselves with goods and services. We currently have more than 51,000 members throughout our territory; spanning from North Cowichan to Sayward.
Mid Island Co-op has fifteen retail petroleum and convenience store locations, seven commercial Cardlocks as well as the Co-op Centre on Bowen Road which houses Coastal Community Credit Union, Island Home Furniture, Centric Health Home Medical Equipment, Kelly’s Kitchen and Kool & Child.
In order to serve our members better, we are continuing to expand and develop Mid Island Co-op throughout the Mid Vancouver Island Region.
All of our profits stay in the communities we serve through re-investment in the Co-op, equity allocations to our member-owners and through contributions to community organizations and local youth.

What is a Co-op?

These Co-operative Principles are guidelines by which co-operatives put their values into practice. The following statement of principles was developed though the International Co-operative Alliance.

1. Voluntary and open membership 

Co-operatives are voluntary organizations, open to all persons able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, political or religious discrimination.

2. Democratic Control 

Co-operatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members, who actively participate in setting their policies and making decisions. Men and women serving as elected representatives are accountable to the membership. In primary co-operatives, members have equal voting rights (one member, one vote) and co-operatives at other levels are also organized in a democratic manner.

3. Member Economic Participation 

Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of their co-operative. At least part of that capital is usually the common property of the co-operative. Members usually receive limited compensation, if any, on capital subscribed as a condition of membership. Members allocated surpluses for any or all of the following purposes: developing their co-operative possibly by setting up reserves, part of while at least would be indivisible; benefiting members in proportion to their transactions with the co-operative; and supporting other activities approved by the membership.

4. Autonomy and Independence 

Co-operatives are autonomous, self-help organizations controlled by their members. If they enter to agreements with other organizations, including governments, or raise capital from external sources, they do so on terms that ensure democratic control by their members and maintain their co-operative autonomy.

5. Education, training and information 

Co-operatives provide education and training for their members, elected representatives, managers, and employees so they can contribute effectively to the development of their co-operatives. They inform the general public-particularly young people and opinion leaders- about the nature and benefits of co-operation.

6. Co-operation among co-operatives 

Co-operatives serve their members most effectively and strengthen the co-operatives movement by working together through local, regional, national and international structures.

7. Concern for Community 

Co-operatives work for the sustainable development of their communities through policies approved by their members.


Mid Island Co-op – A Proud Tradition

Like everything we do at the Co-op, writing our history is a collaborative project. If you have a story, a document or photo or any information about our Co-op, please bring it in to the Bowen Road store or contact us by e-mail. With your help, our history will continue to grow on these pages.

The Co-op idea takes root

Probably everybody who lives in and around Nanaimo has heard of the Co-op. In fact, though we’ve been known by a few different names, it’s still just ‘the Co-op’ to most people. And it is probably one of the best-known institutions in our community.

It’s perhaps surprising, then, to discover that the Co-op’s history is not a long one. It begins about 50 years ago, when a small group of people connected with the Credit Union and led by Rod Glen began to wonder out loud why a community that enthusiastically supported a Credit Union did not have a consumers’ Co-operative.

That meeting of course led to others, and lots of them. But on September 28, 1959 a Memorandum of Association was signed to form Mid-Island Consumer Services Co-operative. The first services provided were home heating fuel and gasoline, and a bulk oil plant and gas station were built. Three years after the Memorandum was signed, the first gallon of gas (we weren’t metric in 1962) was pumped.

Strong support ignites price war

The next two decades were very busy ones for the Co-op. The gas outlet in Chase River was a great success, but that led to demand for a new outlet closer to town. And no sooner was the new outlet established than the Co-op was involved in its first price war, a nice reminder that history does repeat itself.

Though the decision to approve in principle a retail outlet for consumer goods was made in 1964, more than six years would pass before the Harewood Store would open, and only after a huge membership campaign had been carried out. Once open, though, the store was a huge success, and it took only three more years before a second store was opened.

Co-op expands and changes

Both the Harewood and Bowen Road stores were expanded within five years of construction, and in 1979 the Co-op was the biggest game in town. The headline in the local paper said “Nanaimo lines up to buy at the co-op” and the writer of the article estimated that “75 per cent of the families in Nanaimo already shop at the Hub Co-op.”

When the Harewood store opened in 1971, it was known as Tru-Mart. The first issue of the Newsletter (March 25, 1971 declared that Tru-mart was the “Household Supplies Division” of the Mid-Island Consumer Services Co-operative, better known to the members as “Hub Co-op.”

The newsletter also made it very clear that Tru-mart was not a grocery store in the sense it was set up to “sell” anything; rather it was more like a warehouse, a purchasing agency that bought products for members at wholesale and offered them to members at wholesale plus costs.

Member cards, grease pens, and self-bagging

Shoppers at Tru-Mart also had to demonstrate their commitment to the Co-op. They had to sign a service agreement with the Co-op by which they agreed to purchase $80.00 worth of shares, and they also had to agree to make purchases “for members of my household only.”

The early days of shopping at the Co-op also required some small sacrifices. For example, you had to pick up your membership card which the cashier would duly mark, and you would also pick up a grease pencil to mark the prices on your groceries. Old hands and experienced co-operators were recognizable by the fact they seemed to bring their own (better quality) marking pencils.

Co-op leads in innovation

The Co-op was not, however, slow to modernize and improve its services. In fact it was apparently the first to introduce electronic scanners, and there were Co-op express lanes unlike those in any other stores: the cashier would take four small orders in a row and then one large one. In the later 80’s a bakery-deli was opened at each store.

The only thing we can truly count on is change itself

The Co-op, today, has changed and evolved as a result of the times. Clearly the stiff competition, the proliferation of other grocery outlets and multi-national warehouse chains have taken their toll. Although we’ve now seen the closure of the Harewood and Bowen grocery stores, the Co-op is still a major economic and social player in our community.

The petroleum figures are impressive: our sales are over $124 million per year, and all profits stay in our community through member allocations and supporting community events, youth, children, seniors and more.

The Co-op’s first fifty years have been challenging and exciting; and we expect the next 40 years will bring more challenges and exciting changes.

Board of Directors

Mid Island Co-op’s members elect three of the nine elected directors at the Annual General Meeting each year. Each member serves for a three-year term but may run for re-election. Any active member of the Co-op who meets the legal requirements may run for office. Unlike a corporation, voting rights are based on membership, not shares.

For Board or policy issues, contact the President.

Darlene Thorburn

Board President

For board related issues please contact:

Stu Seifert

Vice President

(Committee Appointments: Executive, Finance, Nominations/Resolutions/AGM and Image)

Barb Peters

2nd Vice President

(Committee Appointments: Chair: Image, Executive, Finance, Member Relations, Funds Allocation)

Elinor Martin-Law

Director (Committee Appointments: Chair: Member Relations, Finance Image and Policy)

Iris Taylor

Director (Committee Appointments: Chair: Funds Allocation Committee, Finance, Member Relations and Policy)

Melissa Lacroix

Director (Committee Appointments: Finance, Member Relations, Policy and Nominations/Resolutions/AGM).

Patrick Barbosa

Director (Committee Appointments: Chair: Nominations/Resolutions/AGM, Finance, Funds Allocation and Policy)

Avery Bonner

Director (Committee Appointments: Chair – Policy, Finance and Nominations/Resolutions/AGM).

James Bowen

Director (Committee Appointments: Finance, Funds Allocation Committee, Nominations/Resolutions/AGM and Image)

Our Management Team

At a co-operative, the members elect the Board of Directors and, in turn, the Board hires a General Manager to run the Co-op. Our Management and staff have won many awards for their expertise and their outstanding customer service. Here’s our team:

Ian Anderson

General Manager


Blair Gjevre

Petroleum Operations Manager


Karlene Brejak

Credit Manager


Susan Urban

Marketing & Community Relations Manager


Debra Barraclough

Sr. Accountant & Office Manager


Gerard Hunter

Occupational Health & Safety Manager


Janet Watts

Human Resources Manager


Jared Brown

Liquor Operations Manager


Senior Finance Manager

Andreas Wienecke


Our Vision

Proudly providing diversity of services and support in every community we serve.

Our Mission

Delivering exceptional experiences while enriching our communities and returning profits to our members by providing superior service, products and facilities.


Community – Support and Giving Back

Respect – Every day, Every-way

Teamwork – Support Each Other

Integrity – Ethical, Honest, Accountable


Mid Island Co-op adheres to the seven internationally recognized Cooperative Principles. Co-operative Principles are guidelines by which co-operatives put their values into practice. The following statement of principles was developed though the International Co-operative Alliance.
  1. Voluntary and Open Membership
  2. Democratic Control
  3. Member Economic Participation
  4. Autonomy and Independence
  5. Education, Training and Information
  6. Co-operation among Co-operatives
  7. Concern for Community

Role of a Member (Core Function)

To participate in the ownership, control and patronage of their Co-operative to the end that fulfills its purpose (meets the needs of the members).


Different members will have a variety of interests in their Co-operatives.  However, for the Co-op to effectively function as a Co-operative, each member should be carrying the majority of the following responsibilities:
  1. Patronize the Co-operative.
  2. Abide by the laws and policies of the Co-operative.
  3. Participate in the election of Directors.
  4. Participate as a Director.
  5. Assess the performance of the organization.
  6. Communicate complaints,suggestions, comments and needs of the Co-operative.
  7. Participate in activities of the Co-operative.
  8. Explain or discuss the Co-operative with other members and potential members.