Union members pack room to support cruise ship industry at Victoria city council

WatchStanding room only prevailed at today's Victoria city council meeting. In October, council passed a motion limiting the number of ships coming until environmental concerns are addressed. Those concerns include carbon emissions, noise and garbage associated with the ships. But as Mary Griffin reports, those working in the industry say it's an economic driver that shouldn't be punished.

The public gallery inside Victoria’s city hall was packed on Thursday.

The majority of people were wearing union logos on their jackets and hats. It was a message to council members from the International Longshore & Warehouse Union.

National president Rob Ashton said imposing any limits on the industry is a concern.

“As you can see behind me, it has a lot of my members concerned. Not just the long-shoring part of our industry but launch services and recycling industry as well,” Ashton said.

The workers attended the meeting because Victoria council thinks cruise ships are an environmental problem.

In October, council passed a series of motions to regulate waste and emissions from cruise ships while they’re in port.

“The industry should be wound down until such time as it has a sustainable power source,” Coun. Ben Isitt said on Oct. 17 while discussing the motions.

In October, council voted to request the installation of shore power for cruise ships. And it limited the number of ships docking until environmental concerns are addressed. This is the first opportunity for the industry to defend itself to councillors.

“The economic benefit in 2016 was measured at $130 million a year, just from the cruise sector. The cruise sector’s grown since 2016. And we’re updating those numbers, we hope to have new numbers for 2020. I would estimate the economic benefit is much larger now than it was back in 2016 at $130 million a year,” Barry Penner, the legal advisor to the Cruise Lines International Association, said.

But it’s a case of economics versus the environment. And councillors, such as Jeremy Loveday, are not budging.

“I think the tourism industry is heading towards a climate reckoning. And we’ll need to adapt very quickly. I think it serves both our planet and our local tourism industry very well to do everything we can as quickly as possible to lower our carbon emissions and cut our waste,” Loveday said.

But the people who work in the industry worry the council’s demands to cut carbon emissions will mean job cuts for them.

“Victoria is known around the world. Why not bring people in from other countries and from other provinces to see what Victoria has to offer. And Victoria has a lot to offer. And when I hear the word, ‘reckoning’, I’m afraid we’re going to throw that away,” Ashton said.


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