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.

 

Just Posted

Multi-family housing zoning passed

The way is partly paved for 11 new multi-family strata buildings to go up in Smithers

Houston woman gets two years for aggravated assault

Ewald pleads guilty; trial of co-accused Calvin Dyrland begins in Smithers court

Two Smithers bowlers go to nationals

Madison Richter and Peyton Pettigrew are heading to Oshawa after winning gold at B.C. provincials.

New Work BC office scheduled to open April 1

Kopar Administration, the new Work BC contractor, still looking to fill positions in Smithers office

Gryphons girls graduate as coach moves on

Bulkley Valley SD54 van der Mark on his time as coach and education administrator.

Sparks fly as SUV speeds down wrong side of Highway 1 trying to flee RCMP

Captured on video, the vehicle headed westbound against oncoming traffic before crashing

Terror at sea: Helicopter rescues frightened cruise passengers in Norway

The Viking Sky cruise ship was carrying 1,300 passengers and crew when it experienced engine trouble

Search and rescue team helicopters injured climber from B.C. provincial park

A 30-year-old woman suffered a suspected lower-limb fracture in Skaha Bluffs Provincial Park

DOJ: Trump campaign did not co-ordinate with Russia in 2016

Attorney General William Barr said special counsel “does not exonerate” Trump of obstructing justice

Trudeau in Vancouver to support Tamara Taggart at Liberal nomination event

The former broadcaster is seeking the nomination for the Vancouver Kingsway riding

Trudeau calls May 6 byelection for B.C. riding of Nanaimo-Ladysmith

The riding opened up when Sheila Malcolmson resigned in January

B.C. VIEWS: The hijacking of our education system gathers speed

Children taught to strike and shout fringe far-left demands

Judges on Twitter? Ethical guidance for those on the bench under review

Canadian judges involvement in community life are among issues under review

Calgary captain has 3 points as Flames torch Canucks 3-1

Giordano leads way as Alberta side cracks 100-point plateau

Most Read