Cruise ships docking in Greater Victoria will have to pay a higher fee for the waste they leave behind, but not as soon as some would’ve liked.
The Capital Regional District board on July 13 voted to up the per-tonne fee for cruise ship solid waste from $157 to $500, beginning in January 2024.
While the lower amount is appropriate for low-risk waste, CRD staff said, it’s been too low to keep up with the costs associated with the amount of the high-risk materials needing to go to Hartland landfill.
High-risk substances need to be buried in controlled waste trenches and covered with a minimum of one metre of low permeability clay at Hartland. While all the cruise waste left in Greater Victoria this year – as of April – had been deemed high risk by federal agencies, Ian Robertson, CEO of the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority, said that it mainly consists of food waste.
CRD staff said the higher fee could incentivize the cruise industry to up its recycling and waste diversion efforts, and it would therefore result in saved space at the region’s landfill.
While the increased fee received broad support, the board was split on the timing. In an 11-10 vote, the board narrowly defeated an amendment by Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps to apply the $500 per-tonne fee as of next July.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s rotten eggs or contaminated medical waste, we have to treat it differently and that’s a cost to us,” Helps said. “Everyone around this table and in this community is very concerned about our landfill and our landfill filling up.”
Opposing directors said the region would be in bad faith by imposing the earlier date when the cruise industry already has its 2023 rates set. Some mentioned the industry has said it needs around two years’ notice to make changes and it’s already trying to reduce waste where it can.
But others in support of the amendment noted the industry is already responding quickly to other factors impacting operations – such as fuel prices, inflation and staffing issues. Several directors said the one-year notice would reflect the CRD sending a strong message that it wants the industry to address its high-risk and overall waste.
Helps said it came down to whether taxpayers should subsidize the industry or not.
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