The Park Board

As the landlord of the public aquarium located in Stanley Park, the Vancouver Park Board has the jurisdiction to ban the importation of whales and dolphins into the Vancouver Aquarium because under the Vancouver Charter, the park board is legally allowed to stop any animal species they wish from entering the park system. For example, if a bee-keeper applied to the park board to set up an operation in Stanley Park, and the board decided that Vancouverites would never want to keep bees in our parks, then the board could pass a bylaw that would ban bringing any honey bees into the park system. Believe it or not, this is the only law in Canada that could restrict the aquarium’s trade in dolphins because no other civic, provincial or federal government agency has any jurisdiction over marine mammals placed on public display, only the Vancouver Park Board can only hold the Vancouver Aquarium accountable through the enactment of a strong bylaw.

And that almost happened in 1996. After thousands of people spoke at park board meetings and wrote letters, the park commissioners decided to enact a bylaw intended to completely stop the importation of whales and dolphins into the aquarium, period. However, the night the bylaw was about to be signed into law, the aquarium pressured the commissioners to insert 4 clauses that rendered this bylaw absolutely useless. These clauses are the loopholes that the aquarium uses to continue to bring dolphins that keep their display tanks full.

This bylaw proved to be useless in 2001, when they brought a dolphin from Japan without informing the park board. For a report on the violation of the bylaw, please click here to read “Vancouver’s Dolphin Bylaw: Unenforced and Unrespected” .

In October 2005, the aquarium imported 2 more dolphins from Japan, even though the park board told them not to bring the dolphins because the animals did not meet the watered-down restrictions of the bylaw. The aquarium decided to go ahead despite the park board’s warnings, and now the dolphins are here and the park board doesn’t know what to do. The aquarium keeps threatening the park board with a lawsuit if the city dared impose any real restrictions on their fishy business.

The park board now hides behind the fact that the aquarium was given an unprecedented 17-year long tenant’s lease – and they say they can’t do anything to help the whales until the aquarium’s tenant lease expires in 2015. However, this is simply untrue because the city lawyers were smart enough to include in the aquarium’s lease a clause that clearly states that the aquarium has to abide by the law, and that includes any new bylaws. It stands to reason that a mere tenant’s lease can’t encumber a city by-law. But the political will is not there and the aquarium is powerful and influential.

May 29, 2006 Park Board Meeting RE: Aquarium Resolutions Rescinded

June 6, 2006 Park Board Meeting RE: Violation of Dolphin Bylaw

Will you help the whales today?



© Coalition For No Whales In Captivity 2006