Victoria’s fossil fuel divestment movement heats up

Victoria's fossil fuel divestment movement is picking up steam.

Victoria’s fossil fuel divestment movement is picking up steam.

A rally is being planned outside City Hall just before the council meeting this Thursday (July 23) to urge city councillors to vote in favour of the city’s first motion on fossil fuel divestment.

“We want to show that Victoria residents care about climate change, about stopping investing in climate change and we want to put pressure on city council, not only to vote yes for this first motion, but to continue to take the next steps toward full fossil fuel divestment,” said Laurel Collins, an organizer with Divest Victoria, an independent activist group that is planning the rally.

“This is a movement that is growing, it’s really in its infancy in Canada and we’re on the cutting edge of it.”

The motion, which passed 8-1 during last week’s governance and priorities meeting, would see council appeal to the Municipal Finance Authority (MFA), the Municipal Pension Plan, the Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM) and the provincial government to explore mechanisms for municipalities to divest from fossil fuels.

Coun. Jeremy Loveday voted in support of the motion.

“Victoria has progressive and social and environmental policies and I think it’s time that we put our money where our mouth is,” said Loveday. “Climate change is one of the most important issues facing the world and our city and I think it’s time to start this conversation and start taking action in all the ways that we can.”

Last month, the Township of Esquimalt passed a similar motion asking for the finance authority to divest from fossil fuels, create a plan to do so and show what the township’s current investments in fossil fuels are.

Coun. Susan Low brought forward the motion.

“I thought what we need to do is start with information,” said Low, noting that they haven’t heard back from the MFA yet. “I’m very much hoping it will come up at UBCM and that it will be a topic of discussion there because communities all across the province are effected by the fossil fuel industry.”

If the motion is approved by Victoria council, it will join other cities such as Vancouver, New Westminster and Seattle who have also voted in favour of divesting.

“It’s time for the City of Victoria to show leadership on climate change and divestment is one avenue to do that,” added Loveday.