The province is contributing $9 million toward detailed engineering designs for shore power at Ogden Point, so visiting cruise ships can turn off their engines and plug into the local power grid.
The total cost and timeline aren’t yet known, but advocates are hoping for federal funding to install shore power at two berths.
Greater Victoria Harbour Authority in recent years pegged the cost of shore power at up to $24.8 million.
Installing shore power at Ogden Point has been a neighbourhood goal for years to reduce greenhouse gases and ship noise.
Transportation Minister Rob Fleming, who made the announcement Wednesday, said shore power will reduce greenhouse-gas emissions from cruise ships in port by almost half.
The funding will go to the non-profit harbour authority, which plans to work with B.C. Hydro, cruise lines, the City of Victoria and Songhees and Esquimalt First Nations to develop a design for shore-power infrastructure.
Last year, 329 cruise ship visits at Ogden Point brought an estimated $140 million into the local economy, which Fleming called a “big shot in the arm when it was needed most.”
This year, more than 300 ship visits are scheduled, with vessels carrying about 850,000 passengers and crew members in total.
The cruise-ship season kicks off April 11, when the 952-foot-long Sapphire Princess is scheduled to pull in at 9 a.m. for a full-day visit.
Robert Lewis-Manning, chief executive of the harbour authority, said he hopes “at the very least” the federal government will match the province’s funding.
Lewis-Manning estimated the project could be completed in three to five years.
Kelly Craighead, chief executive of Cruise Lines International Association, said the shore-power project aligns with the group’s objective of achieving net-zero-carbon cruising by 2050.
“Shore power is one of the pathways we are pursuing towards that goal, along with sustainable fuels and further technological advancements.”
Ninety-eight per cent of new vessels on the order books for cruise lines through to 2028 will either be equipped with shore-side electrical systems or will be built to allow them to be added, she said.
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