January 12, 2015
VICTORIA, BC — Victoria city councillors Ben Isitt and Jeremy Loveday and the University of Victoria Students' Society are partnering to host a town hall meeting on municipal investments. Inspired by the divestment movement urging more ethical investments by public institutions, the town hall "Our Dollars, Our Future" is taking place on Tuesday January 13 at 7:00 pm at the Downtown Community Centre, 755 Pandora Avenue, in Victoria.
"We believe it's important to invest the public's money in enterprises that advance, rather than undermine, social justice and the environment," says Ben Isitt, the Victoria City Councillor who is co-hosting the event with Councillor Jeremy Loveday and the University of Victoria Students' Society. "We are inviting the public to attend this free event to learn more about the movement for responsible investing by public institutions and examine how investments in fossil fuels, genetically modified crops and the military-industrial complex may not be the best place to invest public dollars."
Speakers at the Town Hall include Kelsey Mech, chairperson of the Canadian Youth Climate Coalition, Nathalie Chambers of the Farmland Protection Coalition, and peace activist and former Green Party leader Joan Russow.
"With the urgency of climate change, both as an environmental and social justice issue, we can no longer continue to invest in the fossil fuel industries which are creating an unlivable future for all of us," says Mech, a former chairperson of the University of Victoria Students' Society. "When large institutions and municipalities, like the City of Victoria, choose to divest it sends a clear message that fossil fuel industries no longer have the social license they require to operate and it helps to create the initiative needed for a transition to a clean and just energy economy."
Currently, the City of Victoria's capital reserves of $120-million and short-term assets are invested in pooled portfolios administered by the Municipal Finance Authority and a contracted fund manager Philips, Hager & North Ltd. This complex arrangement, combined with restrictions on the discretion of municipalities in the Municipal Finance Authority Act, has limited the City's ability to pursue Socially Responsible Investments as mandated by the City of Victoria Investment Policy.
"I’ve heard from many members of the public that they would like their dollars to be invested responsibly," says Councillor Jeremy Loveday. "Other cities and public institutions are moving towards strong and enforceable ethical investment policies. We are starting to have that conversation here in Victoria."
Councillors Loveday and Isitt are exploring alternatives to the current approach to municipal investing and invite all members of the public to join in the discussion at the Town Hall on January 13.