The Greater Victoria Harbour Authority is looking to prioritize shore power. (Don Denton/News Staff)

Greater Victoria Harbour Authority delays upgrades, prioritizes shore power

The GVHA master plan will be delayed for five years

The Greater Victoria Harbour Authority (GVHA) has applied to Victoria for an extended deadline to develop its master plan with the intention to instead focus on installing shore power and other environmental mechanisms at Ogden Point.

In a request coming to council this week, the GVHA is asking for a five-year extension with a deadline of Dec. 31, 2025 for its master plan submission. Early details of the $300 million plan had pointed to including a hotel, stores and walkways in the James Bay area.

The intention of the delay would be for the GVHA to further investigate what it can do to limit its carbon footprint, with an emphasis on installing shore power to its berths.

READ MORE: Victoria councillors aim to halt harbour authority cruise ship expansion plans

The decision comes forward shortly after a third-party carbon audit was conducted for the GVHA, which found that cruise ship emissions have increased by 19 per cent since 2010, creating the same greenhouse gas emissions as 3,241 cars on the road in a year.

Shortly before this report came out, the City of Victoria put forward recommendations to the GVHA to limit its cruise ship activity until it could further reduce the the industry’s negative environmental impacts.

The decision, said GVHA CEO Ian Roberston, was mostly driven by the third-party report and only coincided with the City’s push.

“It makes really good sense for us to do this; we are in a climate crisis and it’s prudent as an organization for us to recognize that,” Robertson said. “Both the City and the Harbour Authority have agreed on a number of issues, including that steps need to be taken to ensure that cruises can grow sustainably.”

Relying on shore power instead of burning fuel could reducing the cruise ship’s carbon emissions by 50 per cent, he added.

ALSO READ: Cruise ships leading culprits in rising greenhouse gas emissions at Ogden Point

Adding shore power won’t be easy: one station cost $14 million in 2012, with Robertson estimating it would probably be closer to $18 million now. One charger would only accommodate one berth, Ogden Point has three.

“We’ll need to phase things in,” Robertson said.

In order to fund the massive project the GVHA will look to Vancouver, which became the first cruise ship terminal in Canada – and third in the world – to offer shore power technology. It did so by combining federal, provincial and cruise-ship industry funding.

Pushing the 10-year master plan back for another five years may increase the cost of the project as construction costs rise, a risk Robertson said is worth taking.

Council will vote on the extension Thursday evening.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com

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