26 June 2019

Vancouver Aquarium drops cetacean ban lawsuit against Park Board, signs new 35-year deal

The Vancouver Aquarium’s cetacean ban lawsuit against the City of Vancouver and its Park Board appears to be water under the bridge.

The aquarium’s parent organization, Ocean Wise, says it has signed a new 35-year licence agreement with the board and reaffirmed its commitment to no longer display whales and dolphins.

It also announced that “all legal action related to the Park Board’s May 2017 amendment to its bylaw restricting cetaceans in Vancouver parks has now been discontinued.”

The Park Board banned the keeping of whales and dolphins on its property shortly after the last two belugas residing at the facility died suddenly in 2016.

The Aquarium said in January 2018 that it would no longer display the animals, but won a court challenge a month later that found it was exempt from the board’s ban — only to have that overturned on appeal a year later.

In May this year, Ocean Wise launched a lawsuit against the city and the board claiming that the 2017 ban had resulted in millions of dollars of financial losses and was a breach of contract.

The federal government banned the keeping of whales and dolphins in captivity earlier this month.

“We both have the idea of sustainability, in mind and working towards climate mitigation and biodiversity, and this new extension, or a new renewal of our agreement, puts it all on a positive foot that we can move in tandem for the future.”

The new deal essentially extends Ocean Wise’s existing agreement with the board, which was set to expire in 2029.

The new lease agreement comes at no cost to the Aquarium for the first five years, then starts at $175,000 in 2024 and climbs by $25,000 per year until it reaches $300,000 annually.

Asked why there was no public consultation on a lease agreement that extends three decades into the future, Mackinnon said the negotiations had to be conducted privately because of the pending litigation.

In a media release, Ocean Wise said the new licencing agreement sets the stage for the organization’s new five-year vision, which will be launched in January 2020.

That plan will focus on conservation, public education, governance and research, it said.

“The new licence agreement marks the start of an exciting, new chapter in Ocean Wise’s evolution and provides the foundation for our ambitious five-year strategic plan,” Ocean Wise president and CEO Lasse Gustavsson said in a media release.

“We appreciate the Park Board’s support for Ocean Wise’s evolution and are thrilled that the Vancouver Aquarium is staying in Stanley Park, which has been its home since 1956.”

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

25 June 2019

Ocean Wise and Vancouver Park Board sign new 35-year licence agreement

Ocean Wise announces new vision for conservation and public education


 "We look forward to a new future with Ocean Wise as leaders in raising awareness of the vital role of our oceans and sharing the importance of conservation with their visitors."  Stuart Mackinnon, Chair of the Vancouver Park Board


 June 25 2019 – 

Ocean Wise and the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation are pleased to announce that a new licence agreement has been reached, which will allow the Vancouver Aquarium to remain in Stanley Park for the next 35 years.

“The new licence agreement marks the start of an exciting new chapter in Ocean Wise’s evolution and provides the foundation for our ambitious five-year strategic plan,” said Lasse Gustavsson, CEO and President of Ocean Wise. “We appreciate the Park Board’s support for Ocean Wise’s evolution and are thrilled that the Vancouver Aquarium is staying in Stanley Park, which has been its home since 1956.”

World-class visitor attraction 

 The Vancouver Aquarium has connected more than 45 million people from around the world to our oceans and all the wonders within them. It’s a world-class visitor attraction, home to thousands of incredible ocean species and aquatic life. It’s also a place that sparks awareness and inspires action to help protect our oceans.

“The Vancouver Aquarium in Stanley Park is a partner for the biodiversity and ecological issues we both champion,” said Stuart Mackinnon, Chair of the Vancouver Park Board. “We look forward to a new future with Ocean Wise as leaders in raising awareness of the vital role of our oceans and sharing the importance of conservation with their visitors.”

New five-year vision

 With the new licence agreement in place, Ocean Wise will launch its new five-year vision in January 2020 with a renewed focus on conservation, public education, governance, and enhancing the visitor experience. Ocean Wise will also continue to invest in research programs, which have contributed to global knowledge of marine wildlife and set apart the organization as a world-class institution.

“Ocean Wise aspires to become a global ocean conservation organization and wants to inspire people in every corner of the planet to participate in creating healthy oceans, but for most people the ocean is ‘out of sight, out of mind,’ ” said Gustavsson. “There are many threats to the ocean, but the greatest threat is that many believe someone else is going to save it. Ocean Wise has an important role to bring the ocean to the people and the people to the ocean, and the Vancouver Aquarium is one of the best tools we have to do that.”

No longer displaying cetaceans

In reaching this new agreement, Ocean Wise has confirmed its 2018 commitment to no longer display cetaceans in Stanley Park.

All legal action related to the Park Board’s May 2017 amendment to its bylaw restricting cetaceans in Vancouver parks has now been discontinued.

22 June 2019

'It's an emergency:' Vancouver park official alarmed by urban forest drought

Dave Demers wants to speed up plan to plant more drought tolerant species

Chad Pawson · CBC News · Posted: Jun 21, 2019

A Vancouver Park Board commissioner wants to accelerate plans to protect Vancouver's urban forest from drought.

Dave Demers, a landscaper who was elected in October as a Green Party representative, wants the city to do more to make sure that the varieties of trees it plants in parks and along streets can handle hotter, dryer and longer summers in the city.

'I think the situation is changing very fast and it's an emergency, we have to really speed up and double down on what we are already doing and not let go," he said. "The canopy, it's important, it's what makes the city livable and we cannot let that go." 

"To make sure ... in 10, 20 years, 30 years from now we have a canopy that's very resistant and healthy we really need to be careful what we plant and where," he said.

Vancouver is currently trying to increase the canopy of its urban forest, which is the amount of leaf cover over a city seen from the sky.

Urban forest benefits

The city had a 22 per cent canopy cover in 1995, but a combination of development, pests and even property owners bent on improving their views by cutting down mature trees caused that figure to decline to around 18 per cent.

The City of Vancouver is trying to plant 150,000 new trees across Vancouver in a 10-year span from 2010 to 2020 as part of its Urban Forest Strategy. There are more than 450,000 park and street trees combined in Vancouver, made up of around 500 different species. 

A healthy urban forest can help clean the air, slow climate change, ease strong winds, conserve rainwater, provide wildlife habitat and contribute to a sense of wellbeing for city residents.

 But Demers is worried that any gains will be snuffed out by the damage caused to trees, especially native ones such as Westernred cedars, as drought becomes more common. 

City foresters are already doing work to assess kind of trees will thrive in Vancouver's future forest. They not only have to contend with climate change, but also encroachment from construction and development.

They are working to figure out what species of trees, such as those from naturally warmer regions in Oregon or Washington, will be best to plant here. 

Demers wants that work to speed up. He says he's working on a motion to present in July that will strike a large committee to study the concept.

Demers also wants the Park Board to look for ways to ease stresses on the urban trees, such as putting in place other irrigation systems.

The City of Vancouver now uses more than 4,000 special water bags that are attached to trees to help give them steady water in the summer.  

Signs of weakened forests continue to pop up however. This week a teen was killed near Sooke on Vancouver Island after a tree toppled on him. Experts say dry conditions and wind can impact thestability of trees.

Meanwhile a mature catalpa tree fell in strong winds in Vancouver's West End this week, but the Park Board say the tree was otherwise healthy.

With files from Timothé Matte-Bergeron. (c) 2019 CBC News

20 June 2019

Temporary transfer station for green waste opens in False Creek

An action to help prevent the spread of Japanese beetle


June 17 2019 – 

As part of our efforts to eradicate the Japanese beetle, an invasive and destructive pest that feeds on the flowers, fruit and leaves of over 300 species of plants, a temporary transfer station has been opened in the False Creek area for homeowners and landscapers to drop off their green waste.

The Japanese beetle was first discovered in Vancouver’s False Creek area in 2017. It can significantly damage landscape and ornamental plants, fruit and vegetable gardens, nurseries, orchards, and agricultural crops. In response, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is restricting plant material and soil from being moved outside the regulated area which includes False Creek and Downtown, to help prevent the beetle from spreading.

Movement restrictions for above-ground plant materials are in effect June 15 to October 15.

Movement restrictions for soil or plants mixed with soil, including root balls and sod, are in effect year-round.

Residents and business owners in the regulated area should continue to use their green bin for their yard trimmings. However, any excess green waste should be brought to the temporary transfer station.

Landscapers who work in the regulated area and who have large quantities of green waste and/or soil to dispose of should only move this material outside the regulated area by obtaining a movement certificate from the CFIA by calling 604-292-5742 or emailing cfia.wstjb-sj.acia@canada.ca. Those in non-compliance of CFIA’s movement restrictions may be subject to fines.

Using the temporary transfer station

Location: 301 W 1st Ave
Open: June 17 to Oct 18
Hours: Monday to Friday, 2pm to 6pm

Accepted materials


Green waste and small amounts (one wheelbarrow limit) of plants mixed with soil, including root balls and sod, from within the regulated area.

Site users


Commercial landscapers and gardeners can drop off small (pickup truck) quantities. Larger quantities (more than one pickup truck) require a movement certificate from the CFIA by calling 604-292-5742 or emailing cfia.wstjb-sj.acia@canada.ca.

Homeowners should continue using their green bin first. However, any green material in excess of regular green bin quantities should be brought to the temporary transfer station. Food waste is not accepted.

Fees for services


Green waste:
  • $25 for half pickup truck load
  • $50 for pickup truck load even with the top of the box
  • $75 for pickup truck load that is heaped up over the top of the box
Plants mixed with soil, including root balls and sod, are $15 per load in small quantities only (one wheelbarrow limit)

Payment method


Payments can be made on-site using debit, MasterCard, or Visa. For commercial operators, monthly invoicing is available. A 15% administrative fee will be added to monthly invoices.

For verification and billing purposes, site users will be required to provide their name, name of company (if applicable), address, and contact details.

18 June 2019

Commissioner Dumont to forward motion aimed at eliminating gas and diesel powered generators from Vancouver parks

Published Jun 18, 2019 1:18 PM

VANCOUVER, B.C. – On Monday, June 24, 2019, Green Party Commissioner Camil Dumont will introduce a motion asking staff to develop a strategy to transition the Vancouver Parks and Recreation system to one that is free of gas and diesel powered generators. The transition plan will cover all Park Board operations as well as contracted partners and all others within the system.

“The Vancouver Park Board leads by example when it comes to sustainable practices in our city; but we can be better,” said Dumont.

“We can’t continue to maintain any baseline that acts as a driver of climate breakdown. Step-by-step we must ensure that true ecological sustainability is placed at the core of policy. We must identify where it is not and collaboratively transition to a paradigm where preserving a safe climate and maintaining ecological health are non-negotiable; and we must do so with urgency.

“Gas and diesel powered generators contribute to climate change, pollute our air, water, and soil and cause substantial noise pollution.

“This policy proposal is a significant shift from our current status quo. It is impactful and will require adjustment for many of the components of our system. It is also a transition we must make. We can’t continue with ‘business as usual’ on this file; we are in a climate emergency, we must accept that reality and act accordingly.” 

Gas and diesel generators are used extensively in Vancouver’s park system to power events, food trucks, festivals and more. Dumont’s motion asks staff to explore the provision of electrical infrastructure as one possible emission-free alternative. Green City Councillor Adriane Carr is working on a similar motion to transition Vancouver’s film industry off of gas and diesel powered generators.

More Information:
Motion: Gas and Diesel Generator Pollution Elimination Strategy

12 June 2019

Park Board approves strategy for improved non-motorized watercraft opportunities

June 11 2019

On Water Strategy

Our waterfront is a treasured asset and a key part of our identity – from the seawall to our beautiful beaches. The On Water Strategy, I hope, will encourage more people to explore non-motorized water sports & increase access to the water from the shore. Vancouver Park Board Chair Stuart Mackinnon

The Vancouver Park Board has approved the On Water Strategy (15 MB), a document that will guide the planning and design of facilities and programs serving canoers, kayakers paddleboarders, and many other water recreation enthusiasts in Vancouver over the next 10 years.

The On Water, Vancouver’s Non-motorized Watercraft Recreation Strategy was approved by the Board at a meeting last night. Non-motorized water sport activities include canoeing, kite surfing, rowing, dragon boating, outrigging, windsurfing, kayaking, paddleboarding, and small craft sailing.

The strategy includes quick start projects, including a user map that illustrates potential locations for different activities and abilities, as well as information about safety, facilities, and amenity locations.

Waterfront is treasured asset

The guide will be distributed online and at community centres and be updated every two years.

“Our waterfront is a treasured asset and a key part of our identity – from the seawall to our beautiful beaches. The On Water Strategy, I hope, will encourage more people to explore non-motorized water sports and increase access to the water from the shoreline,” said Vancouver Park Board Chair Stuart Mackinnon.

The strategy examines the waterway areas of False Creek, Spanish Banks, English Bay, and Burrard Inlet near Coal Harbour. The Fraser River was not included due to its heavy industrial use, strong currents, and the lack of facilities. Future updates to the strategy should consider expanding the scope to align with increased recreational activity expected along the Fraser River.

Comprehensive public engagement

The strategy was developed and supported through a comprehensive public engagement process, which began in summer 2017 and ran until early this year.

It describes the current state of non-motorized watercraft facilities and activities, and proposes strategies to deliver on five key directions (expand opportunities and participation, increase access to water, improve safety and access to information, protect the environment, and foster opportunities to build community) over the next decade to help bring Vancouver closer to a vision for high-quality, accessible non-motorized watercraft recreation.

Other quick start projects include identifying and providing watercraft launch areas at beaches and parks, delivering more learn-to-paddle programs, and replacing the Alder Bay Dock next to the False Creek Community Centre with a dock that is universally accessible. A concept plan was developed through a series of engagement events with the False Creek Community Association and CMHC Granville Island, user groups, and the public.

Next steps include hiring a structural marine engineer to produce detailed design drawings and specifications.

11 June 2019

Canada Bans Keeping Whales And Dolphins In Captivity

By Amy Held | NPR
Tuesday, June 11, 2019

 An orca surfaces near Vancouver Island, Canada. The country's Parliament has passed legislation banning the practice of breeding and holding dolphins, whales and porpoises in captivity.

VW Pics / Universal Images Group via Getty

Canada's Parliament has passed legislation banning whales, dolphins and porpoises from being bred or held in captivity, a move that was hailed by animal rights activists.Violations are punishable by fines of up to $200,000 (about $150,000 USD).

The bill contains some exceptions: Marine mammals already held will be allowed to remain in captivity. And the animals can be kept during rehabilitation from injury or for the purposes of licensed scientific research.

Animal rights activists, who have long argued that containing marine mammals and training them to entertain amounts to cruelty, celebrated the news, tweeting under the hashtags #EmptyTheTanks and #FreeWilly.

Former Sen. Wilfred Moore of Nova Scotia introduced the measure, known as the Ending the Captivity of Whales and Dolphins Act, in 2015, said in a statement from Humane Society International/Canada that phasing out the animals' captivity was a "moral obligation."

Canada's Senate's passed the measure last year, and the House of Commons voted to approve it on Monday. The legislation now goes through a process known as royal assent before it can become law.

The CBC reports that the measure "notably impacts Marineland, the Niagara Falls [Ontario] amusement park and zoo that is considered the last Canadian park committed to keeping cetaceans in captivity."

Marineland has some 61 cetaceans: "55 beluga whales, five bottlenose dolphins and one orca, according to the CBC, citing data from Fisheries and Oceans Canada.

The park had initially opposed the ban, saying it would hurt attendance as well as conservation efforts. But in a statement Monday, Marineland said its operations have been evolving since its founding in the 1960s and that it would comply with the legislation.

The Vancouver Aquarium bowed to public opposition last year and said it would no longer keep dolphins and whales for display. At the time, it had one dolphin in captivity.

"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 bylaws accordingly," park board Chair Stuart Mackinnon said in a statement.

In the U.S., SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, which has SeaWorld parks in California, Florida and Texas, announced in 2016 that it would stop breeding captive killer whales and shift its focus to marine mammal rescue operations.

Three years earlier, the documentary Blackfish sparked a public outcry over the treatment of captive orcas. The film documented the killing of SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau by an orca named Tilikum in 2010.

Nearly 60 orcas are in captivity at parks and aquariums worldwide. "A third of the world's captive orcas are in the United States, and all but one of those live at SeaWorld's three parks in Orlando, San Diego, and San Antonio," National Geographic reports.

And while SeaWorld has shifted attention to other attractions, it has continued to put on dolphin shows, to the chagrin of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, a longtime critic. The animal rights group maintains that such displays can harm the animals.

SeaWorld's vice president of animal health and welfare, Hendrik Nollens, recently defended the practice, saying the dolphins "are faster than us, they are stronger than us."

"They are in charge. They choose," Nollens said. "They decide whether to do the interaction or not."

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit npr.org. Original article here.