A consultant's report says a fourth, and possibly a fifth, cruise ship berth at Ogden Point would be required to accommodate the growing industry.
Demand on the Alaska cruise ship route is already strong and consultants Bermello, Ajamil & Partners are predicting it will continue growing.
If the operators of Ogden Point want to accommodate future demand to 2036, they will need more berths to moor larger ships and handle a higher number of visits, said a preliminary presentation to the board of the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority. Curtis Grad, CEO of the harbour authority, is quick to say no decision has been made to add berths at the James Bay site.
The consultants have prepared a cruise market assessment for the board as it works through the stages of developing the Ogden Point Master Plan. A second report, from Martin Associates, examines potential for other revenue.
Presentations on market potential went before the board at its latest meeting and final reports are expected in six to eight weeks, Curtis said Thursday. The next board meeting is scheduled for Nov. 22.
The harbour authority will be reviewing a range of information, including how to manage moving passengers from Ogden Point, as it maps out its vision for the waterfront site. Citizens will have an opportunity to give input, likely in the new year, Grad said. He hopes that rezoning of the site will be completed by the end of 2013.
Cruise ship traffic has increased over the years as the number of vessels and their size has grown. Local businesses and tourism attractions welcome the visitors, but James Bay residents have long complained about noise, traffic congestion and emissions from the vessels and buses and taxis serving passengers.
The GVHA is looking at ways to transport passengers using less intrusive means. These include new technology on buses, supporting walking routes to downtown and a water taxi service.
This year, about 475,000 passengers are expected to land in Victoria during 229 cruise ship visits, which began in spring and run until late October.
If Ogden Point holds steady with three berths, passenger numbers would move to 649,559 in the next quarter of a century, mainly as a result of larger ships and capacity, the presentation said. But if more berths are added, passenger numbers could top one million on more than 300 ship visits.
Today, the average number of passengers per ship at Ogden Point is 2,075.
That is projected to increase to 3,064 in the study's timeline.
"What this study actually tells us is that there is more demand than there is capacity at Ogden Point," Curtis said. At one time this season, a cruise ship could not tie up because the three berths were full. The vessel anchored off shore, sent passengers in via smaller boats and waited until there was a free space.
"The big constraint to future growth is that we only have three berths," Grad said. However, strong demand means that the harbour can be more selective as well, he said.
The non-cruise report outlined a number of uses for Ogden Point, such as hull cleaning.
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