Vancouver Aquarium starts legal proceedings to overturn whale ban


VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The Vancouver Aquarium has started legal proceedings to overturn a bylaw amendment that bans cetaceans from the Stanley Park attraction.

The aquarium argues the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation did not have the legal authority to make the change.

The amendment means the three cetaceans currently at the aquarium can remain there, but no others can be brought in.

The aquarium opposes the ban, fearing it will hamper its ability to save or help injured animals that are found on BC’s coast. It had previously announced it would phase out beluga whales in captivity by 2029.

A key part of the lawsuit is the fact the aquarium has spent $45 million on a previously approved $100 million dollar expansion project. The aquarium argues that expansion project is now obsolete.

The aquarium wants a ruling from the BC Supreme Court that the bylaw amendment is invalid.

The facility’s legal petition claims that:

  • the Park Board does not have the statutory power to enact the bylaw amendment;
  • the Park Board commissioners refused to hear representations from the Vancouver Aquarium concerning the bylaw amendment, having made up their minds well before May 15;
  • the language of the Park Board’s bylaw amendment is unacceptably vague; and
  • the bylaw amendment renders the remaining phases of the Vancouver Aquarium’s approved $100-million revitalization and expansion project obsolete. ($45 million of public and private funding has already been invested to date.)


“The ramifications and impacts of the Park Board bylaw amendment are so far reaching that they fundamentally change the Vancouver Aquarium’s ability to deliver its mission of conserving the world’s oceans. As a result, we have no choice but to defend ourselves,” says John Nightingale, President and CEO, Vancouver Aquarium.

The City of Vancouver says it is reviewing the suit. The Park Board says it will not be commenting.


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