The Vancouver Park Board (VPB) is appealing a recent BC Supreme Court (BCSC) decision that ruled a VPB bylaw which bans cetaceans from being kept in captivity at the Vancouver Aquarium was unenforceable, due to pre-existing contract obligations between the Aquarium and the Park Board.
“We believe that the BCSC ruling… poses a real and substantial challenge to the legal power and authority of our elected board,” said VPB Chair Stuart Mackinnon. “Our board has decided we must appeal this decision.”
The BCSC ruling by Justice Mayer was in response to the Aquarium’s application for judicial review of amendments to the Parks Control by-law, passed by the Board in May of 2017, restricting the importation and keeping of cetaceans in Vancouver parks.
The Court held that the contract between the VPB and the Aquarium restricted the board’s authority to pass a by-law that applied to the Aquarium’s operations in Stanley Park.
The VPB said this holding could have far-ranging impacts on the Park Board’s legislative powers, which are granted to it under the Vancouver Charter.
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“As outlined in a notice of appeal filed March 2, 2018, the Board will ask the BC Court of Appeal to overturn the order of the B.C. Supreme Court and affirm that the by-law restricting cetaceans in Vancouver parks applies to the Aquarium,” said the VPB in a statement. “The Park Board continues to support the care of the only cetacean remaining at Vancouver Aquarium, a Pacific white-sided dolphin named Helen.”
The Park Board, along with applicable provincial and federal laws pertaining to cetaceans, permits and regulates Aquarium activities in Stanley Park.
The Board has a long-term agreement with the 60-year-old Vancouver Aquarium to operate within Stanley Park. The current licence runs until 2029.
Stanley Park is owned by the Government of Canada and leased to the city as a park. City Council has designated Stanley Park as a permanent public park under the Vancouver Charter.
The Park Board has exclusive jurisdiction and control over Stanley Park.