Vancouver Park Board challenges court ruling that struck down cetacean ban

The battle over keeping cetaceans in captivity was reignited on Friday after the Vancouver Park Board announced it had filed an appeal of a B.C. Supreme Court decision that found it did not have the authority to impose a ban on whales, dolphins and porpoises at the city's aquarium.

The appeal is just the latest twist in the ongoing fight between the board and the Vancouver Aquarium

Volunteer observers at the Vancouver Aquarium watch Qila the Beluga. (John Healey/Vancouver Aquarium)

The battle over keeping cetaceans in captivity was reignited Friday after the Vancouver Park Board announced it had filed an appeal of a B.C. Supreme Court decision that found it did not have the authority to impose a ban on whales, dolphins and porpoises at the city's aquarium.

In a statement released Friday, the park board said it is challenging the Feb. 9 court ruling, which found the board lacks the jurisdiction to enforce the ban.

The Vancouver Park Board claims the ruling could have far-reaching impacts on its own legislative power.

"We believe that the B.C. Supreme Court ruling of February 9th poses a real and substantial challenge to the legal power and authority of our elected board," said Park Board Chair Stuart Mackinnon.

"Our board has decided we must appeal this decision."

Ban imposed, ban accepted, then struck down

Friday's announcement follows months of back and forth in the battle over keeping cetaceans in captivity.

In May 2017, the park board approved bylaw amendments officially banning the Vancouver Aquarium from bringing in new dolphins, whales and narwhals.

In June 2017, the Vancouver Aquarium fired back, announcing it was filling a legal challenge of that ban.

In January 2018, the aquarium announced it was giving up its fight to keep whales and dolphins in captivity, saying the heated public debate on the issue is hindering the work it does in conservation. But less than a month later, the B.C. Supreme Court ruled in its favour, and ruled that the park board did not have the authority to ban whales, dolphins and porpoises at the city's aquarium.

The park board is now asking the B.C. Court of Appeal to overturn the order of the B.C. Supreme Court and affirm that the bylaw restricting cetaceans in Vancouver parks applies to the aquarium.

The Vancouver Aquarium declined to comment Friday on the appeal and the Vancouver Park Board said it could not comment further as the matter is now before the courts.