Vancouver park board appeals supreme court ruling on cetacean ban

Vancouver Park Board is appealing the supreme court ruling that struck down its by-law banning the importation and keeping of cetaceans at Vancouver Aquarium.

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

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Last spring Vancouver Park Board voted to ban the importation of new cetaceans to city parks as well as prohibiting performances. In June, the aquarium launched legal proceedings in an effort to overturn the ban arguing that the park board does not have the statutory power to enact the bylaw amendment, that the language of the bylaw is unacceptably vague and the ban would make the remaining phases of the aquarium’s approved $100-million revitalization and expansion project obsolete.

In last month’s decision, Justice Andrew Mayer ruled in favour of the aquarium stating that the park board does not have the power to enact the bylaw amendment as it conflicts with the licence agreement with Ocean Wise Conservation Association, which operates the aquarium.

In its appeal filed with the B.C. Court of Appeal Friday morning, the board is asking the court to overturn the decision and affirm that the bylaw restricting cetaceans in Vancouver parks applies to the aquarium.

“The Park Board continues to support the care of the only cetacean remaining at Vancouver Aquarium, a Pacific white-sided dolphin named Helen,” the board statement reads. “The Board also continues to support the excellent work by Vancouver Aquarium staff and volunteers in the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre run at a facility outside of Stanley Park.”

The board has a long-term agreement with the aquarium to operate in Stanley Park. The current licence agreement expires in 2029.

@JessicaEKerr

jkerr@vancourier.com

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