A trio of cruise ships sit in port at Ogden Point on a weekend evening. (Victoria News file photo)

Victoria council has no authority to tax cruise ship passengers, says mayor

Proposal circulating online hasn’t formally been brought to council

A new proposal aimed at implementing a tourist tax for visitors coming off cruise ships hasn’t formally been presented to the City of Victoria’s council and its future doesn’t look promising.

The proposal has been making its rounds on social media and according to Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps, has landed in the inboxes of many members of council.

“The City does not have the authority to levy that kind of tax this person is suggesting,” says Helps.

The proposal states it wants “the City to implement a tax on cruise ship passengers arriving at Ogden Point.”

While no individual person or organization is taking credit for the proposal as of now, Helps says it isn’t looking promising.

The proposal states cruise ships likely contribute approximately two per cent of Victoria’s greenhouse gas emission, although this is only an estimate by the proposal’s creator or creators, based on the City’s Climate Leadership Plan.

READ MORE: Record number of cruise ship passengers visit Victoria this year

Helps says the City is working closely with the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority (GVHA) to be as “carbon-free” as possible, citing a “significant improvement” of people walking into downtown and electric buses. Despite these examples, Helps says she still has concerns about the larger cruise and airline industries’ environmental impact.

“We are working in partnership with the GVHA and I feel proud of the efforts,” says Helps, adding the group is working towards fully electrifying their bus fleet by 2022, eight years ahead of the BC Transit plan. “So here on the ground, we’re making significant strides.”

The proposal states that by charging a passenger tax of $2.50 per tourist per day, close to $2 million could be raised annually, which could be used to “cover the provision of monitoring stations and recognition of impacts on residents (e.g. noise, congestion, health and air quality).”

READ MORE: Ogden Point hosts largest cruise ship ever to come to the Island

Ian Robertson, CEO of GVHA, says they are in constant contact with the Cruise Lines International Association to seek their feedback and insights on how the industry is moving towards a more sustainable future.

“We’re also working directly with 15 different cruise lines that call to the Victoria Cruise Terminal to ensure that their environmental practices meet our strict standards,” says Robertson.

Robertson adds it’s also important to note that some of the information outlined in the proposal is not accurate, specifically the information regarding the air monitoring in James Bay.

As outlined on the GVHA’s website, they support and fund the James Bay environmental air monitoring station and have not had any elevated readings in more than two years, and SO2 emissions have remained well below the recommended objectives and standards.

To view the full proposal visit vicyyj.com.


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