Victoria motion suggests significant regulations for cruise industry within city

Victoria motion suggests significant regulations for cruise industry within city
File photo
Queen Elizabeth arrived in Victoria in May 2019. The ship holds nearly 2,200 passenger and crew and is operated by the luxury cruise line Cunard.

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps, Coun. Marianne Alto and Coun. Ben Isitt are recommending regulating the cruise ship industry within the city in an effort to cut down on emissions and waste.

The motion from the group, which will go before the committee of the whole on Oct. 17, 2019, recommends:

  • That council request 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.
  • That council request that the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority work more aggressively with the cruise ship industry to install shore power at Ogden Point.
  • That council direct staff to report back on the city’s jurisdiction on regulations for the cruise ship industry with respect to waste and emissions, and on the potential of requiring shore power by a particular date in order to significantly reduce and eventually eliminate the negative impact of waste, carbon emissions and particulate matter from the ships while they are in the City of Victoria.
  • That council request that the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority publicly report to council on the recent study it commissioned which outlines the impact of cruise operations on the environment.

According to the motion, it is not anticipated that the city or provincial or federal taxpayers be asked to subsidize shore power through grants but rather that the shore power is installed on the basis of a “producer pay” principle. Shore power, the provision of electrical power to a ship at berth while its main and auxiliary engines are shut down, was installed at the Canada Place cruise ship terminal in Vancouver in 2009, the first in Canada and third in the world.


The motion also says it is not recommended that staff hold up the work they are doing on buildings and transportation but that this work on the cruise industry be added on to that work as
supplementary and done as resources become available.

“Staff can report to Council as part of the 2020 budgeting process as to whether this work will require extra resources. The legal work undertaken by staff on the other sections of the Climate Leadership Plan will hopefully have some bearing on this issue and it will hopefully not be large body of work in order to produce at least a preliminary report for council on the City’s jurisdiction with respect to regulating cruise ship emissions while ships are in the city,” the motion says.

The recommendations come after the City of Victoria declared a climate emergency in 2019 and directed staff to report back with an accelerated timeline to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030 and zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The city also held workshops in 2019 on how to reduce emissions from buildings and transportation.

“Transportation emissions and waste generated within the City of Victoria by the airline and cruise industries are not within the immediate scope of the Climate Leadership Plan. Local transportation industry leaders have acknowledged and are working to redress their contributions to local emissions and waste deposits,” the motion reads.

The motion states that despite “the good efforts of the GVHA [Greater Victoria Harbour Authority] in the areas in their jurisdiction, ” throughout the summer, emissions from three cruise ships were more visible and caused concern over compliance among several residents and the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority.”

“In addition, news reports this summer revealed that a large amount of waste from cruise ships is ending up in Hartland Landfill which is incommensurate with the amount of time
that ships are spending in port. According to CRD reports, 150 tonnes per month of waste is dumped at Hartland Landfill during cruise season. While this is only 1 per cent of all waste disposed in the landfill, it is a significant amount of offshore waste dumped in our local landfill.”

The motion acknowledges the GVHA has been collaborating with cruise lines to address the situation but there are limitations of current technology.

“The Greater Victoria Harbour Authority here on the ground has been doing a terrific job trying to manage transportation impacts, so we appreciate that. At the same time, the cruise industry is not responding adequately to a climate emergency. They have a goal of cutting their emissions 50 per cent by 2050 and that doesn’t fit with the Paris agreement and it doesn’t fit with Victoria’s goals either,” Mayor Lisa Helps said Friday.

Ian Robertson, CEO of the GVHA, says a long conversation is needed about shore power, with the installation of one plug alone comes with a number of considerations that include the availability of electricity, cost and construction timelines.

“You know I think where we agree is that more can be done, a lot has been done, but more can be done. I think where we disagree is on the path forward and how we get there and I was hoping that the approach taken by the mayor would have been more collaborative,” Robertson said.

Read the full motion below:


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