Cruise ships docking in Victoria may soon have to pay more than three times what they currently pay for the solid waste they leave behind.
A fee of $157 is charged per ton for solid waste sent to the Hartland landfill by cruise ships. The Capital Regional District Environmental Services Committee approved June 15 to increase this fee per ton to $500 beginning in 2024. This will still need to be passed by the CRD Board of Directors.
A report says the value of landfill space and the costs associated with handling high-risk waste from cruise ships means that current fees are too low.
In the last non-pandemic year, cruise ships docked in Victoria unloaded 2,100 tonnes of solid waste before it was taken to the Greater Victoria landfill. Approximately 30% (approximately 600 tons) of this waste has been designated as high risk by federal agencies overseeing cruise ship waste. High risk waste is buried in controlled waste trenches and covered with at least one meter of low permeability clay at Hartland.
Cruise ships are not required to offload waste when docking, as this decision rests with the ship’s crew. But given the limited storage space, the CRD said regular unloading is a logistical necessity.
The Environmental Services Committee voted against a proposal by Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps for the fee increase to take effect in a year.
“I think waiting until 2024 is way too long. The industry is adapting and that’s an adjustment they’ll have to make if they want to keep bringing waste here,” Helps said.
The Greater Victoria Ports Authority told the CRD that cruise ship prices have already been set for 2023 and asked that any changes to disposal fees come into effect in 2024 or later.
Helps said his proposed timeline was a fair compromise because it gave the industry a year to prepare while taking action on the solid waste management plan adopted by the CRD by deterring waste from landfill.
Using 2019 as a benchmark, CRD staff said the $500-per-ton fee would cost the cruise industry $200,000 a year, representing revenue for the district. These fees are the same as those charged by Hartland for the disposal of asbestos, which is the only other type of waste that originates outside the region’s boundaries. High-risk and controlled waste takes up more space in Hartland and also requires additional staff and additional contractor costs.
Beyond items sent to Hartland, the CRD report states that 85% of all cruise ship waste received in Victoria is recycled. Black Press Media asked if this means this part is sent to recycling facilities or if the percentage refers to the amount of material that ends up being processed and recycled.
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