Capital Letters: Cruise ships returning to Victoria

In a quiet summer, Capital Daily readers weigh in on the return of cruise ships to Victoria

Capital Letters: Cruise ships returning to Victoria

In a quiet summer, Capital Daily readers weigh in on the return of cruise ships to Victoria

James MacDonald / Capital Daily
James MacDonald / Capital Daily

Capital Letters: Cruise ships returning to Victoria

In a quiet summer, Capital Daily readers weigh in on the return of cruise ships to Victoria

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Capital Letters: Cruise ships returning to Victoria
James MacDonald / Capital Daily

The quiet summers that have accompanied the pandemic will not last forever. A federal government announcement on July 14 paved the way—or rather cleared the waters—for the return of cruise ships to Victoria starting in November. The real outcome of the decision, however, will come next summer when the cruise ship season starts in earnest.

Next summer, Victoria will host the crowds that have increasingly marked summer here on the Island, and the accompanying economic activity, noise, jobs, pollution and debate over whether it's all worth it.

We asked Capital Daily readers what you thought about the big boats' return, and our inboxes—had they been physical boxes—would have buckled under the weight of letters. Below, we've printed a few representative samples.

With climate change and COVID, the answer should be no

It is sad and upsetting to think that in this day and age, of climate crisis and health crisis, and after years of discussions, meetings, government promises and global summits, these huge polluters are still allowed to operate on our beautiful planet. Seriously? Think carbon footprint! Think infectious diseases!

On the local level, does our beautiful city of Victoria really need this? Can we not attract tourists who actually want to spend time in our city and surroundings, eat at our great restaurants, visit our many and varied parks, and spend their money in shops other than the Government Street souvenir stores?

According to the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority (GVHA), the million-plus passengers annually “directly and indirectly sustain 800 local jobs” (emphasis added). Hardly a huge economic boost. The GVHA plans to install “shore power” so the ships can turn off their engines while in the harbour—how will this be enforced and funded? Does the GVHA, and Victoria, really need and want these mega-huge eyesores in our harbour? They obscure everyone’s view of the water, Olympic mountains, and they harm sea life, birds, and who knows what else.

The tourist industry, here and globally, needs to come up with a better option for people around the world who still want to participate in this weird, passive, “hands-off” style of quasi-tourism.

Helena Kadlec

Floating biohazards

I'm not very pleased about these “floating biohazards" returning to Victoria. As a matter of fact, I'm really pissed! We have had enough of a the whole spread of Covid and now the Delta variant which is out of control in the United States, especially the southern states. These are facts. Welcoming another wave of isolation and fear for the almighty dollar. It is not worth Victorian lives! Take the idea and send it out to sea!

Michael McDougall

Cruise industry helps Victoria punch above its economic weight

For the economy to bounce back better than ever. James Bay " suffers a busy season of 7 months" and complains like Hell came down on their neighbourhood!

This industry almost single handily makes Victoria punch above its economic position. Citizens who decry cruisers are selfish and tunnel vision like in this view. Share the wealth—you do not own it but participate in enjoying the benefits. Change is being balanced, not exclusionary!

Gregor Campbell

Unintended consequences

The GVHA and the Downtown Victoria Business Association always paint the question of the Cruise Industry in Victoria as an issue of jobs, plain and simple. The James Bay Community feels the direct effect of the hundreds of thousands of cruise ship visitors, all through the cruise season.

Jobs are important to people who live in our community, however like capitalism in general, they bring with them unintended consequences. The pollution from the ships. The trash left in our land fills. The pollution from the buses and trams that move the visitors from the ships. And because of the size of the ships, the pure density caused by the ships’ passengers.

Perhaps limiting the size of the ships—along with the installation of shore power (which the cruise lines should pay for)—and eliminating Victoria as their trash dump might go a long way to balancing the need for jobs, while allowing visitors to enjoy what we value in Victoria.

Brian Munn

Local jobs and revenue welcome

I’m delighted to hear the announcement about the resumption of the cruise ship season for 2022. That means the return of 1000+ local jobs directly related to that segment of the tourism industry. And the all important revenue of $130+ million will be most welcome in the city! In addition, with the planned return of the cruise ships, the GVHA can begin planning to enhance the port facilities by providing power to docked ships.

I say YAY!  Let the ships return! And the approximately 600,000 passengers will be warmly welcomed!

Monique Duclos  

Canada is not prepared

Canada is also discussing the opening of our border to allow Americans back into Canada; the timing is just not right. Covid cases are on the rise again in the US, and they are calling it a disease of the unvaccinated. The rise in cases is shown to be mainly among those people who have not been vaccinated. If this is indeed the case, why on earth would we open our borders and allow cruise ships to return?

I would love to see the border reopened—I think we all would—but it has to be done with the safety of Canadian citizens in mind. If our government says that Canada will only allow double vaccinated people into the country, I have no idea how they are going to do that, there is nothing in place right now and what is to prevent people that have not been vaccinated from coming across. I think the timing is wrong and our country is not prepared.

Cynthia Brunt

Over-tourism, pollution and disease must be considered

Cruise ships in Victoria dock directly within the James Bay neighbourhood, within metres of residents’ homes, causing extreme stress and myriad problems ranging from noise, air pollution, significant traffic issues, and over tourism. The liveability of this and adjoining neighbourhoods has become increasingly problematic during the “cruise ship season.”

The following facts regarding cruise ships are irrefutable:

Numerous studies have shown that cruise ship pollution is a huge global concern. This pollution (including noise pollution which has tremendous negative effects on whales – see World Wildlife Fund website) is increasingly becoming a threat not only to humans, but also to this planet’s bird and sea life. Bird and sea life around Victoria are not exceptions to this threat.

Over-tourism due to the operation of massive cruise ships is a global concern and threatens the survival of cities and cultures around the world. Such cities as Bergen, Venice, Barcelona, Key West and Juneau are currently taking steps to limit the numbers, location and other factors of cruise ship operations.

Disease spreads wildly on cruise ships, as was seen during the early days of the Covid crisis, and these ships therefore have the potential of spreading disease in cities where they dock.

Cruise ship traffic in Victoria Harbour has increased yearly, and is set to rise again in 2022.

Even assuming that cruise ships actually do bring a commercial advantage to more than a limited number of businesses in Victoria, there is a point at which any economic advantage to a city is overtaken by the negative social and health effects on the community.

Pressure must be placed on governments at all levels, beginning with our supposedly “green” Victoria City Council, to take action in order to provide a coherent plan to limit the operation of cruise ships in Victoria—to preserve our own environment and to end our contribution to this worldwide environmental degradation.

Jennifer Button

Ships not welcome in James Bay

As a resident living in James Bay, the cruise ships are not a welcome sight. The businesses talk about the economics of the cruise industry, but what do these ships do to our health and environment as well as as our oceans?

Firstly they float in spewing their emissions for James Bay residents to breathe all day long between 7:00 am and midnight every day for six months a year. Hundreds of busses and taxis spew emissions driving people to Butchart Gardens and downtown. Large transport trucks drive to each ship while they are in port to remove foreign garbage that is off loaded and sorted at the Breakwater (15,000 tonnes per month in 2019). This garbage makes its way through James Bay to Hartland Landfill, filling up our dump, even though none of it originated in our country. How green is that?

James Bay residents are not compensated in any way from this industry. Weput up with noise, pollution, traffic congestion, and a huge garbage facility in a residential setting. Something stinks and it’s called money, but not for James Bay.

As residents we pay millions in taxes and we spend more money downtown per person than any tourist does, yet we get all the ugly negatives from this industry.

Will these ships also bring us new and mutant Covid viruses that we will have to contend with, all in the name of wealth for a few? It’s been proven that once the virus gets on a ship it is very difficult to contain.

No, these ships are not welcome in my world.

Linda Klein

Business case is overstated

I have lived in James bay for 20+ years and my husband and I have loved not having the ships in our neighbourhood these past two summers. They’re huge ugly noisy monstrosities and I’m even less amenable towards them since I’ve learned how environmentally nasty they are. I always assumed they were pretty bad in that department but the reality is really depressing.

People in Victoria seem to believe that the cruise ships are a font of business and economic benefit but as a (retired) downtown business owner I have never seen any evidence of it. Cruise ship passengers, when they were in town long enough to get downtown, had little time and were notoriously loath to spend money. The great boon to the local economy was nothing but propaganda as far as we could see and no one in the business community we talked to had much to say to the contrary. If there was a benefit to business we sure didn’t see it.

I love the Ogden point breakwater. It’s an incredibly rich and diverse mini ecosystem. The breaking waves oxygenate the water and the stone blocks create a fantastic habitat for thriving communities of sea life: octopus, starfish, anemones, purple, red and green urchins, fish, the amazing umbrella crab, abalone, seals, otters, mink, sea lions, migratory seabirds—yhe list is almost endless. It’s a beloved spot for divers, birders, nature lovers and ecotourists and should be strongly protected.

As an avid nature observer I welcomed the lack of cruise ships and the natural community there at the breakwater did too. In my 24 years of almost daily visits I’ve never seen it so healthy and vibrant.  I’m not in favour of resuming the noise, traffic, pollution—not to mention the influx of potential covid 19 infections these gigantic looming monsters represent.

Quite against it in fact.

Morna Tudor

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