Metro news

February 12, 2014
By Joe Lofaro Metro

CONTRIBUTED/Guillaume Bouchard A worker installs solar panels on one of Ottawa Renewable Energy Coop’s rooftop solar panel projects.

Investment and social progress don’t often get put in the same sentence, but advocates of “social finance,” will hold a a panel discussion Thursday about the movement and the role it has shaping local investments that matter to them.

One of the speakers, Ottawa-based lawyer, George Brown, will talk about the movement from an Ottawa perspective and why residents should care about it.

“Many of  (residents) are right now looking at tax time and the returns on their investment portfolio and some of them are not too happy,” he said Wednesday. “So this is an opportunity to do an alternative investment that gives them potentially good returns.”

He describes “impact investing” as using finance tools to solve community problems. One recent example of this is the solar panel roof project installed on Collège catholique Samuel-Genest in the city’s east end.

The Ottawa Renewable Energy Co-op (OREC), the host of Thursday’s talk along with Invest Ottawa, said the green roof will generate about $65,000 of revenue every year and the energy created will help power the community around the school.

“Everyone would agree that renewable energy is a good thing, (but) businesses or co-ops need to raise money to do this with investors,” said Brown. “Instead of investing in mutual funds and investing in God knows where, they’re choosing to invest their money locally in things like renewable energy, organic community facilities like (The West End Well).”

“If you can find a way to invest in these opportunities, there’s literally hundreds of millions of dollars of investment capital out there,” he added.

OREC’s Janice Ashworth, Bill Shields of West End Well, and Jennifer Benedict from United Way are also on the panel. It will be held at Invest Ottawa headquarters at 80 Aberdeen St. from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Capital Ward Coun. David Chernushenko is expected to moderate the discussion.