B.C. cities seek to end oily investments

UBCM vote calls for alternative, despite challenges

Victoria Coun. Ben Isitt speaks to resolution on fossil fuel-free investing at the Union of B.C. Municipalities convention.

B.C. mayors and councillors voted Thursday to push for an ability to channel their cities’ investments into fossil fuel-free funds to fit their commitments to climate action.

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said the aim is to create a new option for cities that want socially responsible investments, but without forcing others to make the same choice.

“If a council so chooses to go ahead and use the finances at their disposal to support the energy systems of the last century they can by all means do so,” Sechelt Coun. Noel Muller said. “But for those of us who wish to move ahead with it we want that option.”

The Municipal Finance Authority of B.C. is the central financing agency for municipalities and regional districts.

It’s studied the idea of divestment from fossil fuels but has so far concluded it would run the risk of generating inferior returns at greater risk from taxpayer dollars.

“It’s complicated, it isn’t as easy as some people think,” said Cariboo Regional District board chair Al Richmond.

He noted other public sector organizations, including universities, have also explored the idea of fossil fuel divestment in recent years but have backed away from it after careful consideration.

Richmond said fossil fuel-free investing may be more viable in equity funds, but MFA hasn’t found another public sector organization in the world that has implemented it in the fixed-income investments that municipalities are required to use.

MFA is required to act in the best interests of its member communities, Richmond added.

Victoria Coun. Ben Isitt said MFA’s definition of the members’ best interests should be broadened to include “the health of ecosystems in communities and the health of future generations.”

The resolution narrowly passed in an electronic vote with 51.6 per cent in favour.

According to an MFA report this month, determining what exactly counts as fossil fuel free may be challenging.

Many big oil companies are also the largest investors in renewable energy, so “excluding them also excludes opportunities to invest in fossil fuel alternatives.”

It also noted many standalone renewable firms have below investment grade credit ratings so MFA is barred from buying their bonds.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Victoria police investigating chop-shop found in Beacon Hill Park

Police asking public to register bikes with them in case lost or stolen

Island Health issues Victoria overdose advisory

Health authority warns of increase in overdoses from opioids and stimulants

Residents welcomed to The Summit in Victoria’s Quadra Village

Modern 320-bed facility designed for people with complex care needs including dementia

Victoria considers extending free transit passes for youth

Motion for extension of funding comes to council July 16

Recent surge in COVID-19 cases not unexpected amid Phase Three of reopening: B.C.’s top doc

Keep circles small, wear masks and be aware of symptoms, Dr. Bonnie Henry says

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of July 13

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

B.C. NDP changing WorkSafeBC regulations to respond to COVID-19

Employers say reclassifying coronavirus could be ‘ruinous’

Statistical flaws led to B.C. wolf cull which didn’t save endangered caribou as estimated

Study finds statistical flaws in an influential 2019 report supporting a wolf cull

Beloved Island woman dies at 106

Dorothy Adair adored by the many people she met in Chemainus in two short years

Man arrested for allegedly pushing unsuspecting seniors, jumping on cars at Parksville mall

Cops arrest man after ‘aggressive incident’ at Wembley Mall in Parksville

B.C. man who went by ‘Doctor Ray Gaglardi’ charged with sex assault of teenage boys

The man, 75, is accused of assaulting teenage boys he met through Coquitlam-area churches

B.C.’s potential deficit $12.5 billion as spending spikes, taxes drop

Finance Minister Carole James gives COVID-19 outlook

Canadians torn on scaling back COVID-19 benefits to save money: poll

Of those surveyed, 78 per cent said they were worried about the size of the deficit

Most Read