Mooring steel from China to accommodate larger ships at Victoria’s Ogden Point

Cruise-ship piers at Ogden Point sit behind the breakwater at the entrance to the Inner Harbour in Victoria. A mooring dolphin, extending off Pier B, was installed in 2010. New dolphins will be installed on Pier B this year. A crane, centre left, is ready to start the work | Photo: Adrian Lam, Times Colonist

Work on a new mooring dolphin to accommodate larger cruise ships at Ogden Point in Victoria could start within two weeks, according to the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority.

Ian Robertson, CEO of the authority, said steel for the dolphin extension at Pier B is currently being offloaded in Vancouver and will be barged to Ogden Point in the next week. It could be in Victoria within 10-14 days.

“Work will start right away,” said Robertson. “In fact, some crews will be doing pre-work over the next few days and we will be putting steel in the water within two weeks of its arrival.”

The $7-million job is expected to take eight to 10 weeks.

The 58-metre dolphin, a structure used to moor large ships, was originally to have been in place for the 2019 cruise ship season. But in December 2018, the steel, weighing 362 tonnes, fell off a cargo ship coming from China during rough seas.

The loss did not add much in the way of cost to the project.

According to the harbour authority, the lost steel was a loss for a sub-contractor hired to source it from China and deliver to B.C. There were some minor engineering costs incurred as the authority explored other options in January, but that was covered by contingency funds built into the project budget.

The dolphin is seen as a critical piece of infrastructure as cruise lines are increasingly using larger cruise ships.

The city was certainly on the cruise lines’ radar in 2019, and will be again in 2020. The season, which wrapped up on Oct. 18, saw 257 ship calls in Victoria bringing 709,042 passengers and 294,956 crew to the city. Next year the authority expects 284 ship calls and 770,000 passengers between April 3 and Oct. 21.

The increase in ship calls and passengers is a result of new mid-week visits on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. New regular callers to Victoria for 2020 are the Carnival Miracle, Golden Princess, and Norwegian Sun.

Robertson said the popularity of Victoria as a cruise port, and the criticism the industry sometimes takes, is an opportunity to address concerns.

“Yes we had another successful season and we will have another one next year and despite the mayor’s motion and how it came about, at the end of the day it will allow us to tell our story and tell what steps we are taking to reduce emissions and to shine a bit of a light on the steps the cruise lines are taking,” he said.

The motion Robertson referred to was put forward by Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps questioning whether the city could require ships to install shore power by a certain date in order to eliminate carbon emissions and the release of particulate matter. It also questioned if the harbour authority could be asked to cap the number of cruise ships coming into port and refrain from signing any long-term contracts until emissions and waste issues are resolved.

The authority has committed to exploring shore power. The first step will be meeting with B.C. Hydro to determine the process in getting power to Ogden Point.

Times Colonist