New air quality monitors measure real-time air quality around Greater Victoria’s harbour

New air quality monitors measure real-time air quality around Greater Victoria's harbour

The Greater Victoria Harbour Authority has installed a half-dozen PurpleAir Air Quality Monitors to measure dust, dirt, soot and other pollutants from motorized vehicles or vessels.

With two located at the cruise terminal, two at Fisherman’s Wharf and two at Victoria International Marina, the GVHA says residents can now view real-time PM2.5 concentrations for Victoria and surrounding areas.

PM2.5 refers to particles in the air that reduce visibility or cause the air to appear hazy when levels are elevated, according to the harbour authority. It says air quality readings from its monitors consistently report a score of 20 or less, which is the “ideal level” for outdoor recreational activity.

Observations are made hourly and can be found via an interactive online map, with the latest reading for Fisherman’s Wharf, for example, claiming the air was ideal for usual outdoor activities.

“We recognize that our properties and operations are part of the Victoria Harbour Bird Sanctuary, the oldest Migratory Bird Sanctuary on the west coast of Canada,” Ian Robertson, CEO of the GVHA, said in a news release.

“We’re constantly exploring new technology to make harbour activities greener, including the adoption of electric shuttle buses,” Robertson said.

“Unfortunately, electric buses are still extremely unreliable but as with every setback, we will continue to seek out new technological solutions to advance sustainability initiatives.”

The GVHA touts itself as Green Marine Certified and says it has monitored ambient Sulphur Dioxide (SO2) levels in James Bay since 2011, in partnership with the BC Ministry of Environment and Vancouver Island Health Authority. 

While its station shut down in 2020 due to the decline in SOx emissions, the authority notes that the James Bay environmental air monitoring station has not had any elevated readings in more than two years.

Shore power, meanwhile, is an initiative GVHA says it’s actively pursuing. The technology allows ships to turn off their engines and connect to a local power grid when in port, helping to reduce emissions.

“Sustainability in our operations is driven by the GVHA’s guiding principles and continued commitment to the community,” added Robertson.

“While shore power remains our top priority and design work is being completed, we are working on a number of other projects to protect our spaces today for the future.”

Ethan MorneauEthan Morneau

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