Shore power study raises concern in James Bay

Greater Victoria Habour Authority launching study to examine the feasibility of installing an electrical shore power source at Ogden Point

If anyone should foot the bill to improve air quality at Ogden Point, it should be the cruise ship companies, say members of the James Bay Neighbourhood Association.

“They are the polluters. The theory or the basic guideline is the polluters should pay rather than society,” said Brian Scarfe, information director of the James Bay Neighbourhood Association.

Scarfe questions a $20,000 study the Greater Victoria Habour Authority is launching to examine the feasibility of installing an electrical shore power source. Cruise ships can already plug into such systems in Vancouver and Seattle, allowing them to turn off their gas-powered engines.

The study is being funded by the City of Victoria and the Vancouver Island Health Authority, which are each contributing $5,000. The Township of Esquimalt is providing $1,000 and the harbour authority is paying $9,000. The Capital Regional District was approached, but will not be contributing.

The study does little to comfort Scarfe, one of many James Bay residents who have long complained that cruise ship emissions are fouling their air.

“We do not believe anybody should be putting subsidies to help out the cruise ship industry, which makes billions of dollars per year, and if anybody is in fact to deal with the emissions problem here, it should be the cruise ship industry itself burning lower (sulphur-quantity) fuel,” Scarfe said.

“Or if anybody wants to put in shore power, the price of putting it in should be paid by the cruise lines.”

That option may be explored depending on the results of the upcoming study.

“I think that ultimately if the (shore power) project’s going to go ahead, we could look at the cruise line companies as possible partners in it,” said Rebecca Penz, communications manager for the harbour authority.

The harbour authority completed a pre-feasibility study in April that revealed shore power could cost $5 million to $9 million, plus another $11 million for B.C. Hydro to upgrade its grid to supply the electricity.

A more in-depth study is necessary to determine environmental benefits, demand for service and more accurate shore power costs, said Curtis Grad, harbour authority CEO.

A request for proposals is expected to be issued this week so that a consultant can be hired to conduct the study, which will begin in late August or early September.

emccracken@vicnews.com