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May 17, 2017, 2:10 pm

Vancouver Park Board Approves Amendments to Park Control Bylaw Governing Cetaceans

City of Vancouver

VANCOUVER - The Vancouver Park Board has approved and enacted amendments to the bylaw (140 KB) governing importation and display of live cetaceans at the Vancouver Aquarium in Stanley Park, effective immediately. The amendments provide for the continuing care and display of the three existing cetaceans at Vancouver Aquarium, but prohibit any performance or show.
The amendments reflect the Board’s direction to no longer allow cetaceans in Vancouver parks, but will provide for the continuing care of three cetaceans currently living at the Aquarium. False killer whale Chester, harbor porpoise Daisy and Pacific white-sided dolphin Helen will be permitted to remain in Stanley Park.

The Board has been reviewing the practice of keeping cetaceans in Stanley Park since January after the death of two belugas. The bylaw amendments were approved last night after Commissioners received thousands of community submissions on the issue, heard from more than 60 speakers on multiple nights of special public meetings in early March.
“The Park Board voted (May 15) to amend the Park Control Bylaw after extensive public input, many discussions with Aquarium staff, and a thorough review of best practices in aquariums around the world,” said Park Board Chair Michael Wiebe. “We continue to support the excellent work by Aquarium staff and volunteers in the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre outside of Stanley Park.”

Park Control Bylaw amendments:

  1. That an expanded definition for “cetacean” be added to the definitions in section 1.
  2. That “no person shall bring a cetacean into a park”. The current bylaw included this provision however it contained exceptions that allowed for importation under certain circumstances. This amendment will not allow any cetacean importation into Vancouver parks, no exceptions.
  3. That “no person shall keep a cetacean in a park” except for “cetaceans already in a park” as of the date of enactment. This change considers the three existing cetaceans at the Vancouver Aquarium and will not require their removal.
  4. That “no person shall produce or present in a park a show, performance, or other form of entertainment which includes one or more cetaceans”. This new clause is in consideration of the three cetaceans at the Vancouver Aquarium and the limited options currently available for housing them, while supporting the Board’s intent regarding display. The three cetaceans can remain on display. They cannot be included in shows or performances of any kind.

The bylaw amendments are expected to minimally impact the Aquarium’s rescue and rehabilitation program as most rescues are harbour seals. As confirmed by the Aquarium, cetaceans represent a tiny percentage of all marine mammals rescued since the program began.

The Park Board points out that the Aquarium voluntarily decided to end the display of orcas at the Aquarium in 1996. We anticipate that the Aquarium will manage all future cetacean rescues in the same manner they handle the rescue of orcas.

Park Board staff will work with the Aquarium to ensure compliance with the new Parks Control Bylaw. The Board, along with applicable provincial and federal laws pertaining to cetaceans, permits and regulates Aquarium activities in Stanley Park.

The Board has a long-term lease with the 60-year-old Vancouver Aquarium to operate within Stanley Park. The Aquarium has operated under a legal agreement with the Park Board since 1956. The current lease 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.

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