18 January 2018

Park Board responds to Vancouver Aquarium decision on cetaceans in captivity

Vancouver Park Board
News Release
January 18, 2018 

The Vancouver Park Board applauds the announcement today by the Vancouver Aquarium that it will end the importation and display of live cetaceans in Stanley Park.

In May of 2017, after thousands of community submissions on the issue and a number of special public meetings, the Park Board approved and enacted amendments to the Parks Control Bylaw governing importation and display of cetaceans at the Vancouver Aquarium. The amendments provided for the continuing care and display of existing cetaceans. There is only one cetacean, a Pacific white-sided dolphin named Helen, currently at the facility.

“We are pleased that the Aquarium, with this decision, has acknowledged and recognized what we as Commissioners observed in passionate public debates on this issue over the last years,” said Park Board Chair Stuart Mackinnon.

“The public told us they believed the continuing importation and display of these intelligent and sociable mammals was unethical and incompatible with evolving public opinion and we amended our by-laws accordingly. We look forward to working with the Vancouver Aquarium as it intensifies its focus on Ocean Wise research and conservation.”

Last summer, the Vancouver Aquarium launched a legal challenge to the Park Board’s amendment of its by-laws. The matter is still being considered by the BC Supreme Court. As this legal matter is pending and unresolved, there will be no further comment by the Park Board at this time.

The Board, along with applicable provincial and federal laws pertaining to cetaceans, regulates Vancouver Aquarium activities in Stanley Park. The Board has issued a long-term license to the 60-year-old Vancouver Aquarium to allow it to operate within Stanley Park. The Aquarium has operated under a legal agreement with the Park Board since 1956 and the current license agreement runs to 2029. 

Stanley Park is owned by the Government of Canada and leased in perpetuity to the City as a park. City Council has designated Stanley Park as a permanent public park under the Vancouver Charter. The Park Board has exclusive jurisdiction and control over Stanley Park.