March 2, 2018 4:06 pm

Park Board to appeal ruling exempting Vancouver Aquarium from cetacean ban

Vancouver Aquarium President and CEO Dr. John Nightingale speaks about the future of the facility and what the public can expect to see moving forward (Jan., 2018)

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The Vancouver Park Board isn’t giving up its fight with the Vancouver Aquarium over a bylaw banning captive whales and dolphins in city parks.

In February, a B.C. Supreme Court (BCSC) judge ruled the bylaw, while valid, didn’t apply to the aquarium because the facility already had a binding contract with the Park Board, which runs to 2029.

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READ MORE: Vancouver Aquarium ruled exempt from cetacean ban after saying it would phase out whales and dolphins

The aquarium, which had in January announced plans to phase out all cetaceans, said last month that it would “consider the implications [the ruling] may have on our organization before determining our future course of action.”

Now, the Park Board says it has filed an appeal of the February ruling, arguing that it could set a far-reaching precedent in regards to its legislative powers.

WATCH: False Killer Whale dies at Vancouver Aquarium


“We believe that the B.C. Supreme Court ruling of Feb. 9 poses a real and substantial challenge to the legal power and authority of our elected board,” said Park Board chair Stuart Mackinnon in a media release. “Our board has decided we must appeal this decision.”

Stanley Park, where the aquarium is housed, is owned by the Government of Canada, and leased to the City of Vancouver as a park. The Park Board says it has exclusive jurisdiction and control over the park.

READ MORE: Park Board votes to ban cetacean captivity at Vancouver Aquarium

Animal rights activists have fought for years to end the Aquarium’s cetacean program, which they argue is inhumane.

The aquarium has argued the program is invaluable for studying cetaceans and educating the public about them. It also argues the program is a key part of its Marine Mammal Rescue Program, providing a long-term home for cetaceans that were too injured to return to the wild.

Following the deaths in recent years of two belugas and one false killer whale, just one cetacean — Helen, a Pacific white-sided dolphin — resides at the aquarium.

The facility owns several other belugas on breeding loan to U.S. facilities.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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