Victoria city council passes controversial cruise ship motion
Published Thursday, October 17, 2019 4:54PM PDT
Last Updated Thursday, October 17, 2019 5:48PM PDT
Victoria city council has passed a controversial cruise ship motion proposed by Mayor Lisa Helps and two councilors that would limit the number of cruise ships allowed to dock in the city each year, and prevent any long term contracts from being signed until the industry takes significant steps to be greener.
The motion was passed at a Victoria city council meeting Thursday. After the motion was first announced last week, Helps said that she does not want to see an end to visiting cruise ships, but stressed the importance of creating an environmentally sustainable infrastructure for the industry to use.
In contrast, at the council meeting today, councillor Ben Isitt said that he'd prefer to see even fewer cruise ships come to the island, saying "there are no jobs on a dead planet."
The motion generated heated discussion in the community, especially from the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority (GVHA) and local businesses.
According to GVHA CEO Ian Robertson, the local cruise industry is concerned about the rippling effects of the motion, which could make Victoria a less appealing port for cruise ships.
“We need an approach that aligns everyone behind common goals of mitigating and reducing environmental impacts while ensuring that the 800 indirect and direct jobs and the more than $130 million in economic impact are also prioritized and protected,” said Robertson in a statement Wednesday.
While the harbour authority says that the cruise industry has taken steps to reduce emissions, Victoria council wants more significant measures to be taken. Part of the motion suggests shore power as a major step that the industry could take to improve sustainability, as it would stop ships from idling while docked in the harbour.
On Wednesday, questions were raised on whether or not Vancouver Island's power grid could handle shore power stations. Today, BC Hydro told CTV News that the island could easily support the amount of energy required.
"BC Hydro would be able to meet the load," said BC Hydro Community Relations manager, Ted Olynyk. "Typically this would be a large distribution load. This would be fed from a new distribution either from Horsey substation [located in downtown Victoria], or the Esquimalt substation."
"The issue is not capacity rather configuration of the system to provide supply."
According to Olynyk, the project would cost well over $1 million, depending on exact client needs.
While the motion was approved at Thursday's council meeting, it won't receive complete ratification until next week's meeting, scheduled for Oct. 24.