frequently asked questions about membership
January 12, 2021

Otter Co-op Membership FAQ’s

Have questions about Co-op? We have answers!


1. What is Co-op?
The CO-OP® brand is used by a network of retail co-operative associations across Western Canada that own and operate Co-op Agro Centres, Food Stores, Gas Bars/Convenience Stores, Home Centres, Liquor Stores, Pharmacies and more.

2. Who owns and operates Co-op?

Every Co-op is owned by its members, who democratically elect a Board of Directors. The Board of Directors works with management to operate the business.

3. Why is every Co-op store different?
Co-ops differ from community to community because they serve the unique needs of their local members.

4. How is Co-op different from other businesses?
A co-operative is a different way of doing business. It’s about people coming together in their communities for a common purpose. It provides the products and services that meet their needs.

5. What is a co-operative?
The International Co-operative Alliance defines a co-operative as an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly owned and democratically-controlled enterprise.


1. Do I need to be a member to shop at Co-op?
Customers do not need a membership to shop at Co-op locations.

2. Who can become a member?
Membership is open to anyone over 16 years of age. Businesses can be members too!

3. How do I become a member?
It’s easy to become a member. Complete a Membership Application at any Otter Co-op location or online at

4. How much are Co-op shares?
The price of a share at Otter Co-op is $10. Your $10 share is added to your equity account, and will be paid back to you based on the terms of our Equity Withdrawal Policy, attached below. 

5. What is a Co-op number?
Once your application is submitted, you will receive a Co-op number to use when making purchases. This number tracks purchases and is used to determine cash back and equity.

6. Can I use my Co-op number at all locations?
A Co-op number represents your membership and can only be used at locations operated by the individual Co-op assigning the number. Because each Co-op is a unique business that is locally owned and operated, run by a local board of directors, your Co-op number cannot be used across Western Canada. However, you can purchase shares in as many co-op associations as you wish.

7. What is cash back and equity?
Local Co-ops often share any profits realized in a year with their members. The Board of Directors approves an amount, which is returned to members as a percentage of their yearly purchases. Members will receive some of this in cash and the rest will be deposited into an equity savings account that grows over time.

8. When do I receive cash back and equity?
If cash back and equity is approved by your local Co-op’s Board of Directors, they will be distributed once all accounting of the Co-op’s finances have been completed after its fiscal year end. At Otter Co-op you can expect your cash back and equity sometime in the Fall.

9. Why do you require my Social Insurance Number?
Your Social Insurance Number is required under the Income Tax Act for tax reporting purposes. Similar to some financial investments, cash back or equity distributed to Co-op members is considered taxable income. Your local Co-op may issue a T4A form in advance of filing deadlines.

10. Why did I not receive an equity cheque this year?
Please note that we require a minimum $25 of cashback based on your purchases to issue an equity cheque. Otherwise, all 100% of your patronage rewards will be deposited into your equity account for withdrawal based on our policy.