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Cruise-related traffic plan to be further refined in James Bay

Greater Victoria Harbour Authority CEO Curtis Grad talks about the benefits of the cruise ship industry to the Greater Victoria region while standing in front of the Princess Cruises
Greater Victoria Harbour Authority CEO Curtis Grad talks about the benefits of the cruise ship industry to the Greater Victoria region while standing in front of the Princess Cruises' ship Grand Princess currently in drydock at the Esquimalt Graving Dock.
— image credit: Don Denton/News staff

While the number of cruise ship visits will increase slightly in 2014, Victoria's Ogden Point and the James Bay neighbourhood aren't expected to see any additional vehicle traffic over this year as a result.

Greater Victoria Harbour Authority CEO Curtis Grad said they plan to continue refining the transportation plan for cruise passengers' shore excursions as a way to further reduce emissions from the site.

A pilot program using B.C. Transit buses to transport passengers from the docks to various destinations was successful and will hopefully be put in place again next year, he said.

"What we learned was that model works," Grad said. "The doubledecker buses are efficient and allow for higher density."

B.C. Transit, which faced initial backlash from its driver's union over the use of its buses under contract to the harbour authority for the pilot, issued a statement saying it would be "excited to work with the GVHA to build upon those successes for the upcoming cruise season."

Also in the works is a water shuttle pilot project to carry cruise passengers downtown, possibly to the water lot soon to be vacated by the Undersea Gardens. The use of that dock, however, would likely be short-term, Grad said.

"We want to keep that space available for possible future use for the Belleville Terminal Expansion," he said.

Details of the pilot, and a request for proposals will be made public early in the new year.

Grad said the goal is to be able to handle the growth in shore trips through different modes of transport.

While she wouldn't say whether she felt progress was being made in the ongoing battle to reduce vehicle traffic and related emissions, James Bay Neighbourhood Association president Marg Gardiner said more work needs to be done to reduce emissions coming from the cruise ships themselves.

However, one of the jobs Victoria Shipyards is doing on Princess Cruise Lines' ***Grand Princess – it was in drydock at the Esquimalt Graving Dock last week as the GVHA announced results of a cruise tourism economic impact study – is to install a scrubber system that reduces the amount of sulphur in the ship's exhaust.

The numbers revealed in the study focusing on the 2012 cruise tourism season were significant: Direct cruise-related expenditures from the 224 calls – from passengers, crew and services rendered while ships were in port – amounted to $49 million.

Report author Business Research and Economic Advisors also found that the industry generated 368 direct full-and part-time jobs, yielding about $13.6 million in wages.

Taking into account indirect impact, an estimated 683 local jobs and $30 million in wages were attributable to the cruise industry, the study found.

The number of ship visits will go from this year's 203 to 210 in 2014, representing 490,000 passengers.

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