Vancouver Aquarium launches legal action to reverse Park Board's cetacean ban

Jun 15 2017, 10:39 pm

After the Vancouver Park Board’s recent vote to ban cetaceans from the Vancouver Aquarium’s marine science centre in Stanley Park, the Vancouver Aquarium is firing back in court.

In its application, the Aquarium names the Park Board and the City of Vancouver as respondents, with the goal of having the BC Supreme Court declare the ruling invalid and unenforceable.

“The ramifications and impacts of the Park Board bylaw amendment are so far reaching that they fundamentally change the Vancouver Aquarium’s ability to deliver its mission of conserving the world’s oceans,” John Nightingale, President and CEO of Vancouver Aquarium, said in a release. “As a result, we have no choice but to defend ourselves.”

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Among its concerns, the Vancouver Aquarium claims that the Park Board doesn’t, in fact, “have the statutory power” to enact the bylaw amendment, the bylaw’s language is vague, and that the decision on the bylaw was already made before concerns from the Aquarium were heard by the Park Board.

The petition also details numerous impacts from the amendment on the Vancouver Aquarium’s mandate of conservation and operations, including the loss of a long-term home for rescued, non-releasable cetaceans.

“We cannot stand by and allow the Park Board to threaten the health and welfare of cetaceans, or develop bylaws on the fly that undermine our animal protection, conservation, research and education mandates,” added Nightingale.

Nightingale noted that Aquarium’s rescue program is the “only one of its kind in Canada” with the facilities, accreditation and expertise to provide ongoing care for sick and stranded whales, dolphins and porpoises that Fisheries and Oceans Canada deems to be unfit for release following rescue and rehabilitation.

“We deeply appreciate the overwhelming support we have received in recent weeks from the people of Vancouver and British Columbia,” he said. “We will continue to fight the bylaw amendment so we can continue to provide the programs that benefit vulnerable cetaceans, our oceans, and the broader community.”

Eric ZimmerEric Zimmer

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