British Columbia

Cruise ship industry responds to Victoria's motion to reduce emissions

The cruise ship industry says everybody has a role to play in response to a City of Victoria motion to regulate the environment impact of the cruise ship industry.

Motion goes to council Thursday

Victoria's Ogden Point cruise ship terminal sits next to the James Bay neighbourhood. (Greater Victoria Harbour Authority/Facebook)

The cruise ship industry says everybody has a role to play in response to a City of Victoria motion to regulate the industry's environmental impact.

Victoria's mayor and two councillors have tabled a motion asking for, among other things, a limit on the number of cruise ships entering the city until a plan can be found to limit their emissions and waste.

Lisa Helps and councillors Marianne Alto and Ben Isitt tabled the motion which will go before council Thursday. The city declared a climate emergency in February and has been looking at ways to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030 and zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Barry Penner, the spokesperson for the Cruise Lines International Association — and a former B.C. environment minister, says everybody has a role to play.

"If you're expecting one particular sector to bear the burden for all of society you're probably not going to reach your goal," Penner said.

"What I've learned in my time in public life is you're much more likely to reach your targets if you have a number of people pulling in the same direction."

Feasibility of shore power 

One of the suggestions in the motion is to implement shore power at Ogden Point. Shore power allows cruise ships to turn off their engines to reduce emissions while docked. Vancouver's Canada Place cruise ship terminal put shore power in place in 2009.

Penner says that many of the ships that sail into the port aren't actually fitted with the technology to use shore power. Out of the 1,000 or more ports around the world, only about 16 are capable of providing shore power, he said.

Still, Penner says the cruise industry is interested in having this conversation.

"Obviously more needs to be done [to reduce emissions] and that's where research and development money is being spent," he said. 

The Victoria cruise ship industry is an important one. According to the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority, cruise tourism to the region has grown from 212 ship calls carrying 440,000 passengers in 2010 to a record number of 243 cruise ships and 640,000 passengers during the 2018 season. 

With files from All Points West, Chad Pawson


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