July 31, 2014 3:00 pm

Park Board meeting on controversial captive cetaceans decision

Members of the public gather outside park board meeting on whether to keep whales at the Vancouver Aquarium.

Simon Little, Global News

UPDATE: Members of the Vancouver Park Board will meet tonight regarding the controversial issue of whether to keep whales at the Vancouver Aquarium. More than 100 people made their opinions known at two special meetings last week, which were held by the Vancouver Park Board to review the practice of keeping captive cetaceans at the Vancouver Aquarium in Stanley Park. Tonight, the park board will discuss the public’s comments and it’s unknown when the final decision will be made.

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But after dozens more speakers, the board is no closer to making a decision on what to do with a staff report on the issue.

“There’s a lot of information we’ve had to digest,” said Vancouver Park Board Chair Aaron Jasper near the end of the meeting.

“I personally feel very conflicted about where I am on this issue, and I’d like to take a bit more time.”

The park board will continue discussing the topic on July 31.

WATCH: The Vancouver Park Board heard from more speakers on Monday, but are no closer to a resolution

The first meeting took place on Saturday, with 130 people signed up to speak, but with so many on the list the meeting had to continue.

At the meeting, the board received a staff report and presentation from the Vancouver Aquarium, before hearing from the speakers.

“We really want to be able to dive into this report and get opinions before we take any next steps,” he said.

WATCH: Saturday’s meeting was the first of two heated debates over the future of the Vancouver Aquarium.

The report by an independent scientist found that the aquarium meets industry standards but said more research is needed to evaluate the ethics of the practice.

The topic of keeping cetaceans at the Vancouver Aquarium has been a controversial topic in the past year.

The issue has prompted local petitions, protests and plenty of public comment. The movement gained traction ever since the popularity of the documentary Blackfish about orcas in captivity at Sea World.

In addition to the public, several city officials and Dr. Jane Goodall have also publicly urged the Vancouver Aquarium to phase out the cetacean exhibits.

The aquarium currently holds two Arctic beluga whales and two Pacific white-sided dolphins and they want to expand the tanks for these animals next year.

© Shaw Media, 2014

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