British Columbia

Victoria cruise ship season brings big bucks — and complaints

It's cruise ship season again in Victoria, and with 229 ships expected to visit, residents are raising fresh concerns about noise, traffic and dirty air.

It's good for the economy, but residents say not enough is being done to deal with the noise and traffic

The 2015 cruise season kicked off Wednesday in Victoria. (Cruise Ogden Point)

It's cruise ship season again in Victoria, and with 229 ships expected to visit, residents are raising fresh concerns about noise, traffic and dirty air.

The Greater Victoria Harbour Authority says between now and November about 513,000 passengers are expected to stop by on their way from Alaska to Seattle.

The longer the cruise ships stay, the more tourists may spend on the local economy, says Bruce Carter, with the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce.

"The direct spending in the economy is in excess of $30 million, so that's important to us," he told On The Island. "We're talking about supporting 800 jobs in Victoria and we need those jobs."

However, residents who live near the cruise ship port argue that the tourism boost is accompanied by loud buses, pollution and congestion as tourists travel to and from city attractions.

"In a lot of the rest of the world, you see more green vehicles now in general being used for the tourism industry," said Marg Gardiner with the James Bay Neighbourhood Association.

"You do not see 1984 buses, which is a great part of the fleet that we have here."

The Greater Victoria Harbour Authority announced this week that it has signed a new two-year agreement with Wilson's Transportation Ltd., which will offer a cruise shuttle service using leased BC Transit buses. The buses are expected to be cleaner and more efficient than coaches.

The agreement also includes a training and employment plan for members of the Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations.

To hear the full story, listen to the audio labelled: Cruise ship season begins in Victoria

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