British Columbia

Vancouver Aquarium lawsuit against city, park board draws protest

About 20 protesters gathered outside the front gates of the Vancouver Aquarium for several hours Monday to oppose the aquarium's lawsuit against the City of Vancouver and the Park Board.

Aquarium suing over 2017 whale and dolphin ban, claiming millions in lost revenue

About 20 protesters rallied at the Vancouver Aquarium Monday. (CBC)

About 20 protesters gathered outside the front gates of the Vancouver Aquarium for several hours Monday to oppose the aquarium's lawsuit against the City of Vancouver and the Vancouver Park Board.

The Vancouver Aquarium is suing over the 2017 whale and dolphin ban, claiming it resulted in millions of dollars in lost revenue, and constituted a breach of contract.

In May 2017, the park board voted to amend a bylaw that would ban bringing cetaceans into city parks, and prohibit shows and performances involving cetaceans.

In court documents, the aquarium claimed it has seen attendance drop 13 per cent over the last two years.

Based on admission rates, it says, that's a $4 million loss per year.

David Isbister with the protest group No More Dead Captives said the attraction should drop the suit.

"We don't feel that the Vancouver taxpayer should be on the hook for [the aquarium's] continual stream of dead cetaceans that are unrelated to anything other than entertainment," Isbister said.

"And selfish entertainment at that."

David Isbister of No More Dead Captives believes Vancouver taxpayers will have to pay out if the aquarium's lawsuit succeeds. (CBC)

Despite the protesters' efforts to dissuade visitors, the ticket line-up was constant Monday.

A spokesperson for Ocean Wise, the aquarium's parent company, said it is committed to no longer displaying cetaceans.

"We continue to honour that commitment, with the exception of any rescued whales or dolphins that may need emergent temporary care," the spokesperson wrote in an email.

The spokesperson said she could not comment on the lawsuit, as it is before the courts.

The Vancouver Park Board was also tight-lipped about the lawsuit.

"The park board is reviewing the claim with legal counsel and considering its options going forward," a spokesperson wrote.

"The park board will have no further comment while this matter is before the courts."

Despite the protesters, many visitors attended the aquarium on Victoria Day. (CBC)

With files from Belle Puri and Liam Britten

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