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Park Board files appeal of Supreme Court ruling in favour of VanAqua

FILE - Vancouver Aquarium. (James Cybulski, NEWS 1130, Photo)

The Vancouver Park Board has filed an appeal of a February court ruling in favour of the Vancouver Aquarium

BC Supreme Court judge ruled the Park Board has no jurisdiction to change a statute of the Vancouver Charter last month

The battle started after the Park Board passed a bylaw amendment last May prohibiting keeping cetaceans in parks

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The Vancouver Park Board is not backing down from its fight with the Vancouver Aquarium.

It’s filed an appeal of a BC Supreme Court ruling, where a judge determined the Board had no jurisdiction to change a statute of the Vancouver Charter that allows the Aquarium to keep cetaceans through 2029.

“We believe that the BC Supreme Court ruling of February 9th poses a real and substantial challenge to the legal power and authority of our elected Board,” Park Board Chair Stuart Mackinnon says in a release. “Our Board has decided we must appeal this decision.”

The judge’s decision came after the Ocean Wise Conservation Association, the non-profit society that runs the Aquarium, filed an application for judicial review last year challenging the cetacean ban.

However, the Park Board believes the Court’s decision that a contract restricted the Board’s ability to pass a by-law that applied to the Aquarium’s operations in Stanley Park could have consequences.

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“This holding could have far-ranging impacts on the Park Board’s legislative powers, which are granted to it under the Vancouver Charter,” a release reads.

In January, the Aquarium’s president and CEO announced that the tourist attraction will no longer house whales or dolphins.

On January 18th, Dr. John Nightingale admitted he’s been frustrated and disheartened since the Park Board brought in the ban.

The whales belonging to the facility are currently on loan across the US while its one Pacific white-sided dolphin, Helen, remains here.

The Park Board implemented a ban on all cetaceans after a pair of mother/daughter belugas — Aurora and Qila — died within just 10 days of each other in 2016. An investigation found the two died of unknown toxins.

In its release, the Park Board says it continues to support the Aquarium’s work at the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre facility outside of Stanley Park, as well as its care of Helen.