The City of Victoria is asking the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority to put a hold on its cruse ship expansion plans (Arnold Lim/News Staff)

Victoria councillors aim to halt harbour authority cruise ship expansion plans

GVHA ‘surprised and disappointed’ by council requests

The City of Victoria is calling on the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority (GVHA) to stop increasing cruise ship activity and to take further measures to reduce negative environmental impacts from the cruise ship industry.

In a motion coming the the committee of the whole on Thursday, Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps, Coun. Marianne Alto and Coun. Ben Isitt put forward four recommendations to the GVHA after noting visible emissions from cruise ships over the summer, as well as high numbers of waste coming to Capital Region landfills.

“According to CRD reports, 150 tonnes per month of waste is dumped at Hartland Landfill during cruise season. While this is only one per cent of all waste disposed in the landfill, it is a significant amount of offshore waste dumped in our local landfill,” the report reads, adding that other toxins from the ships are sent in the air via emissions and into the water via scrubbers.

“In a climate emergency, the cruise ship industry must act to demonstrate its commitment to a sustainable environment if it is to capture the social licence needed to operate in our city.”

ALSO READ: Revamped seven month cruise season to see 283 ship arrivals in 2020

The motion puts forward four recommendations, including a request that the GVHA work more aggressively to install on-shore power sources, and that the GVHA rein in its expansion plans.

“Council request[s] that the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority not increase the number of cruise ships coming to Victoria, sign any long-term contracts, or consider home-porting cruise ships until the emissions and waste issues are dealt with to the satisfaction of the City’s Director of Engineering and Public Works,” the report reads.

Ian Robertson, CEO of the GVHA told Black Press Media that they were blindsided by the requests.

“I have to admit that I’m surprised and disappointed about the city’s approach,” Robertson said. “I’d rather we take a collaborative approach, as opposed to using the stick approach… I feel the best way we can work to reduce climate change is by working together through all levels of government and industry… that approach was not taken here.”

Robertson said the City and the GVHA had only conversed on the idea of on-shore power outlets for the ships, and agreed that it was an important next step for the future. He added however, that one on-shore outlet would cost around $15 million, a price that almost equates the GVHA’s annual revenue.

“Us taking that on by ourselves is not possible,” he said.

ALSO READ: Florida woman celebrated as eight millionth passenger to Victoria’s cruise ship terminal

Over the last several years the GVHA has seen record numbers of passengers and crew members coming ashore; the City asking them to slow down will have a large economic impact, Robertson said.

“It would not just impact us, but also the Greater Victoria region,” he said. “A 2016 survey said the cruise industry is worth $130 million for local economies, so it’s not just an impact to us as an organization.”

On Tuesday, the GVHA is set to present an environmental report it conducted, where several of the issues brought up by the city are addressed.

“I realize we’re in a very difficult climate situation, and that steps need to be done,” Robertson said. “But this needs to be a collaboration.”

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

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