13 July 2010

Hold citywide vote on whales in captivity, Vancouver park commissioner suggests

Georgia Straight

Vancouver residents may get a chance next year to vote on a divisive issue.

The question boils down to this: Is it right to keep cetaceans, such as whales and dolphins, in captivity?

Green park commissioner Stuart Mackinnon is bringing forward a motion to a meeting of the Vancouver park board on Monday (July 19) suggesting a plebiscite on the matter.

In a phone interview, Mackinnon said that the plebiscite would ask the public if it is in favour of phasing out cetacean exhibits and banning the future containment of these marine mammals on land leased by the Vancouver park board.

The commissioner is recommending that the non-binding vote take place during the next civic election in November 2011.

Mackinnon recalled to the Straight that in a special meeting on November 27, 2006, the board passed a motion to review the bylaw relating to cetaceans in 2015.

“If the park is going to reevaluate the bylaw in 2015, it would be a good idea to find out what the people feel about it,” Mackinnon said.

The death last month of Nala, a one-year-old baby beluga, at the Vancouver Aquarium has revived questions about the wisdom of keeping captive dolphins and whales for public display.

Nala died in the evening of June 21. Her airway was found blocked by a couple of rocks and a penny.

(c) Georgia Straight

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