Cumberland’s social impact purchasing a first in B.C.

The Village of Cumberland has passed a motion to implement social impact purchasing, making the Village the first municipality in B.C. to leverage spending to improve social outcomes in the community.

“Council is aware of the positive impact we can make through our purchasing practices,” said Mayor Leslie Baird. “That’s why we included social procurement purchasing as a strategic priority for the municipality, and why we’ve approved the Social Procurement Framework.”

By passing the framework, the Village is working to build a stronger local economy, to increase diversity among government suppliers, and to improve access for micro, small business and social enterprises to government contracts.

“Council spends $5,000,000 annually,” said Coun. Jesse Ketler, who will represent the Village at a presentation on social procurement during the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) Conference in September. “We want to maximize returns for taxpayers by better aligning this spending with community values and strategic priorities.”

To help forward the strategy, the Village engaged the help of Valley resident Sandra Hamilton, an expert in social procurement who works with municipalities to strategically align purchasing with local objectives while working within the confines of trade agreements.

The former business manager to Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics CEO John Furlong, Hamilton has seen first-hand how social procurement can have a positive effect on a community.

“The floral contract for the 2010 Olympic Games included something called a Community Benefit Clause,” she said. “The winning bid would not only offer a competitive price and supplier capability but would also commit to train women from the Downtown Eastside as florists. It was a pivotal moment for me; I realized procurement had the power to change lives.”

Hamilton will discuss social procurement and economic development Sept. 24 at UBCM. The topic also will be discussed at a Localizing Prosperity event hosted by WeAreYQQ and the CV Chamber of Commerce, Sept. 28 and 29.