Greater Victoria Harbour Authority aiming for another record season

Successful 2012 also included a reduction in speeding in neighbourhood

The Sapphire Princess cruise ship sits at Ogden Point in early October.

The Sapphire Princess cruise ship sits at Ogden Point in early October.

The departure of the last cruise ship at Ogden Point last week capped a record-breaking year. But the increase in traffic continues to be watched closely by area residents.

In total, 503,675 passengers on 224 vessels arrived in Victoria between April and October, according to the Greater Victoria Harbour Authority.

“The significant growth in cruise (business) over the past 10 years has brought many benefits for the community,” said Sonterra Ross, the authority’s chief operating officer.

The 2013 season will see the visit of the first Solstice-class vessel, a massive 315-metre ship that carries 2,850 passengers.

The largest ship this season was 296 metres in length.

GVHA’s speeding reduction program, which temporarily suspends Ogden Point licences for lead-footed taxi drivers, has also shown early signs of success. Ross said 15 drivers had their licences pulled for three days after being caught exceeding the speed limit by commissionaires.

“Early analysis shows that speeding was reduced,” said Marg Gardiner, James Bay Neighbourhood Association president, adding the numbers apply to all traffic on Montreal Street, not just taxis.

She plans to release a full seasonal traffic analysis at the association’s Nov. 14 meeting. Gardiner said an average of 350 taxis and 40 tour buses make their way through James Bay with every cruise ship arrival.

“On three or five cruise-ship days, that’s a lot more traffic,” she said.

Ross said the GVHA has just concluded a market assessment of future business and early signs point to growth in the cruise industry.

“We’re looking at the 10-, 20-, 25-year outlook,” she said, adding any potential berth expansion would take place over a similar time frame.

dpalmer@vicnews.com

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