15 March 2017

BC SPCA supports Park Board decision to prohibit ‘importation and display’ of live cetaceans

 March 10, 2017
 
The BC SPCA applauds the Vancouver Park Board Commission, whose commissioners voted unanimously in favour of a motion to amend bylaws "to prohibit the importation and display" of live cetaceans — porpoises, whales or dolphins — at the Vancouver Aquarium.

“We are thrilled with this unanimous vote,” says BC SPCA chief scientific officer Dr. Sara Dubois, noting the BC SPCA made bylaw recommendations in April of 2014 to take steps toward the phasing out of cetacean programs at the Vancouver Aquarium.

“The BC SPCA is opposed to the capture, confinement and breeding of marine mammals for entertainment or educational display and this vote is very encouraging.” The BC SPCA sent a letter  (PDF)to the Park Board today thanking them for their brave and compassionate votes that will advance both science and ethical conversations on the issue.

The amendments could be enacted as soon as May 15, once Park Board staff report back.

Read the BC SPCA's position on zoos and aquariums.

The British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is a not-for-profit organization reliant on public donations. Our mission is to protect and enhance the quality of life for domestic, farm and wild animals in B.C.

(c) 2017 BC SPCA

11 March 2017

Mackinnon's 'definitive decision' on cetaceans in Vancouver parks

On the evening of Thursday, 9 March 2017, the elected Commissioners of Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation made a historic  decision to change their by-laws. They voted unanimously for a motion I put forward:

"THAT the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation directs staff to bring forward for enactment by the Board an amendment to the Parks Control By-law to prohibit the importation and display of live cetaceans in Vancouver parks and report back not later than May 15, 2017."

Thank you to NPA Commissioner Sarah Kirby Yung for seconding this motion, and to all of the Commissioners for your support.

The fact that it passed unanimously should end this debate once and for all. Below are my remarks as reported in the Vancouver Courier.
 -----------------------------------


This is a transcript of the text read by Green Party commissioner Stuart Mackinnon after he presented a motion to prohibit the importation and display of whales, dolphins and porpoises at the Vancouver aquarium.

"I want to start by thanking all the passionate, knowledgeable people who came out to speak to us over the last two nights.

This is a controversial subject, but one that is pertinent and necessary to discuss. Animals in captivity have a long and controversial history in Vancouver. In 1993 there was a referendum on the fate of the Stanley Park zoo and 53 per cent of the electorate voted for its closure. The zoo was closed three years later.

In 1996, an NPA-majority Park Board passed a motion which called for a further referendum if the Aquarium wished to expand. In 2005, a majority COPE board set a referendum on holding cetaceans in captivity during the 2008 civic election. The next board, an NPA majority, rescinded both of those previous motions and instead passed a new motion stating that “it is the Board’s intention that in 2015 the board review the Parks Control By-law relating to captive cetaceans."

In 2010, as a commissioner, I called for a non-binding plebiscite in 2011 that would have collected information for the 2015 review. 2011 was chosen because that would have been the next time the board could hold a plebiscite in conjunction with a civic election before 2015. My motion was turned down by both the NPA and Vision commissioners.

In 2015 there was supposed to be a review of the keeping of cetaceans in captivity in Vancouver parks. Instead the board debated a breeding ban.

Now it is 2017 and here we are again. It is true that what goes around comes around. This debate has been going on at this table for more than 20 years. It is time to make a definitive decision on the question of having captive cetaceans in our parks.

We have heard a lot about science, and ethics, and morality over the past two nights. Some of the discussion that has stuck with me has been around science. We have the Vancouver Aquarium saying what they do is necessary and important and impossible to replicate elsewhere. I don’t doubt for a minute that the aquarium is made up of dedicated people. I don’t doubt that their intention is to do good. I do however question that this is the only place they can do good science.

We had a scientist and researcher who told us that belugas are adaptable, that they live in small confined areas for parts of their lives — but he didn’t say they live in small confined areas for all their lives, and to me this is important. Sometimes it is what is not said that is important — and I will return to that later.

We had an employee of the aquarium tell us only they know what is best, only they are working on conservation, only they have the best interests of the animals in mind. I find this arrogance intolerable. But I find this arrogance runs right from the top of this organization. We have heard contempt and arrogance for years.

We are told that science is good. And I agree. We as a species have attained great things through science. But we have also created horrors. Agent orange, DDT, Thalidomide. These are all the result of scientific experiments. In the last century, both the Nazis and the Imperial Japanese Army committed atrocities in the name of science. So science is a two-edged sword and we must always balance the good with the bad. Do the ends always justify the means? I think not.

We heard an employee of the aquarium talk passionately about her connection to the animals and how that connection inspired her. She spoke of a captive animal smiling at her through the glass partition. That is just as big an anthropomorphism as any I have heard the conservation community accused of. That smile could easily be interpreted as a grimace of pain and suffering.

The speaker who inspired me the most was the one who asked what greater accomplishments could the aquarium attain if they did not have cetaceans in captivity. What new and innovative ways of doing science would be stimulated if they had to rethink what they do and how they do it.

The topic here tonight is important. Just debating it has led to a new development and offer from the aquarium. Just two years ago, they scoffed at the idea of non-breeding captivity. Now they are proposing it — necessity truly is the mother of invention. They have always said that whales were an integral part of their program and they could not survive without them — now they are proposing to end belugas in captivity in 2029. But more importantly they now say with or without cetaceans, the aquarium will continue.

What they have not said, however, is that if the residents of Vancouver vote in a non-binding plebiscite to end cetacean captivity they will adhere to those results — no, what they have said is that in in 2018 or '19, they will bring back belugas until 2029 and they will not then or in 10 years later end all cetaceans in captivity.

We debate this tonight because it falls within our jurisdiction. The aquarium is in a Vancouver park and therefore falls within the mandate of this elected board. If it was at UBC, it would be a matter for Metro Vancouver. If it was at the quay in New Westminster, it would be for that city to decide. If it was in Langley, it would be those voters. But it is not. It is a matter for this board to decide what happens in our parks.

Commissioners, the time to act is now. The aquarium has no intention of listening to us or listening to the voters. They have no intention of ending captivity for cetaceans themselves. Therefore, we must do it here and now.

That is why I am proposing a change in the by-law to end captivity. We have the power and authority to do so. Let us do so now. The fate of these creatures is in our hands.

As I have often said around this table, we must not only do good, but we must also be seen to do good. Let us do good tonight. Let us be seen to do good. Let us end cetaceans in captivity in Vancouver parks. Please support a by-law change to end cetaceans in captivity."

© 2017 Vancouver Courier
This is a transcript of the text read by Green Party commissioner Stuart Mackinnon after he presented a motion to prohibit the importation and display of whales, dolphins and porpoises at the Vancouver aquarium.

** ** **
I want to start by thanking all the passionate, knowledgeable people who came out to speak to us over the last two nights.
This is a controversial subject, but one that is pertinent and necessary to discuss. Animals in captivity have a long and controversial history in Vancouver. In 1993 there was a referendum on the fate of the Stanley Park zoo and 53 per cent of the electorate voted for its closure. The zoo was closed three years later.
In 1996, an NPA-majority Park Board passed a motion which called for a further referendum if the Aquarium wished to expand. In 2005, a majority COPE board set a referendum on holding cetaceans in captivity during the 2008 civic election. The next board, an NPA majority, rescinded both of those previous motions and instead passed a new motion stating that “it is the Board’s intention that in 2015 the board review the Parks Control By-law relating to captive cetaceans."
In 2010, as a commissioner, I called for a non-binding plebiscite in 2011 that would have collected information for the 2015 review. 2011 was chosen because that would have been the next time the board could hold a plebiscite in conjunction with a civic election before 2015. My motion was turned down by both the NPA and Vision commissioners.
In 2015 there was supposed to be a review of the keeping of cetaceans in captivity in Vancouver parks. Instead the board debated a breeding ban.
Now it is 2017 and here we are again. It is true that what goes around comes around. This debate has been going on at this table for more than 20 years. It is time to make a definitive decision on the question of having captive cetaceans in our parks.
We have heard a lot about science, and ethics, and morality over the past two nights. Some of the discussion that has stuck with me has been around science. We have the Vancouver Aquarium saying what they do is necessary and important and impossible to replicate elsewhere. I don’t doubt for a minute that the aquarium is made up of dedicated people. I don’t doubt that their intention is to do good. I do however question that this is the only place they can do good science.
We had a scientist and researcher who told us that belugas are adaptable, that they live in small confined areas for parts of their lives — but he didn’t say they live in small confined areas for all their lives, and to me this is important. Sometimes it is what is not said that is important — and I will return to that later.
We had an employee of the aquarium tell us only they know what is best, only they are working on conservation, only they have the best interests of the animals in mind. I find this arrogance intolerable. But I find this arrogance runs right from the top of this organization. We have heard contempt and arrogance for years.
We are told that science is good. And I agree. We as a species have attained great things through science. But we have also created horrors. Agent orange, DDT, Thalidomide. These are all the result of scientific experiments. In the last century. both the Nazis and the Imperial Japanese Army committed atrocities in the name of science. So, science is a two-edged sword and we must always balance the good with the bad. Do the ends always justify the means? I think not.
We heard an employee of the aquarium talk passionately about her connection to the animals and how that connection inspired her. She spoke of a captive animal smiling at her through the glass partition. That is just as big an anthropomorphism as any I have heard the conservation community accused of. That smile could easily be interpreted as a grimace of pain and suffering.
The speaker who inspired me the most was the one who asked what greater accomplishments could the aquarium attain if they did not have cetaceans in captivity. What new and innovative ways of doing science would be stimulated if they had to rethink what they do and how they do it.
The topic here tonight is important. Just debating it has led to a new development and offer from the aquarium. Just two years ago, they scoffed at the idea of non-breeding captivity. Now they are proposing it — necessity truly is the mother of invention. They have always said that whales were an integral part of their program and they could not survive without them — now they are proposing to end belugas in captivity in 2029. But more importantly they now say with or without cetaceans, the aquarium will continue.
What they have not said, however, is that if the residents of Vancouver vote in a non-binding plebiscite to end cetacean captivity they will adhere to those results — no, what they have said is that in in 2018 or '19, they will bring back belugas until 2029 and they will not then or in 10 years later end all cetaceans in captivity.
We debate this tonight because it falls within our jurisdiction. The aquarium is in a Vancouver park and therefore falls within the mandate of this elected board. If it was at UBC, it would be a matter for Metro Vancouver. If it was at the quay in New Westminster, it would be for that city to decide. If it was in Langley, it would be those voters. But it is not. It is a matter for this board to decide what happens in our parks.
Commissioners, the time to act is now. The aquarium has no intention of listening to us or listening to the voters. They have no intention of ending captivity for cetaceans themselves. Therefore, we must do it here and now.
That is why I am proposing a change in the by-law to end captivity. We have the power and authority to do so. Let us do so now. The fate of these creatures is in our hands.
As I have often said around this table, we must not only do good, but we must also be seen to do good. Let us do good tonight. Let us be seen to do good. Let us end cetaceans in captivity in Vancouver parks. Please support a by-law change to end cetaceans in captivity.

© 2017 Vancouver Courier - See more at: http://www.vancourier.com/news/mackinnon-s-definitive-decision-on-cetaceans-in-vancouver-parks-1.11427948#sthash.DH4XnIZM.dpuf
This is a transcript of the text read by Green Party commissioner Stuart Mackinnon after he presented a motion to prohibit the importation and display of whales, dolphins and porpoises at the Vancouver aquarium.

** ** **
I want to start by thanking all the passionate, knowledgeable people who came out to speak to us over the last two nights.
This is a controversial subject, but one that is pertinent and necessary to discuss. Animals in captivity have a long and controversial history in Vancouver. In 1993 there was a referendum on the fate of the Stanley Park zoo and 53 per cent of the electorate voted for its closure. The zoo was closed three years later.
In 1996, an NPA-majority Park Board passed a motion which called for a further referendum if the Aquarium wished to expand. In 2005, a majority COPE board set a referendum on holding cetaceans in captivity during the 2008 civic election. The next board, an NPA majority, rescinded both of those previous motions and instead passed a new motion stating that “it is the Board’s intention that in 2015 the board review the Parks Control By-law relating to captive cetaceans."
In 2010, as a commissioner, I called for a non-binding plebiscite in 2011 that would have collected information for the 2015 review. 2011 was chosen because that would have been the next time the board could hold a plebiscite in conjunction with a civic election before 2015. My motion was turned down by both the NPA and Vision commissioners.
In 2015 there was supposed to be a review of the keeping of cetaceans in captivity in Vancouver parks. Instead the board debated a breeding ban.
Now it is 2017 and here we are again. It is true that what goes around comes around. This debate has been going on at this table for more than 20 years. It is time to make a definitive decision on the question of having captive cetaceans in our parks.
We have heard a lot about science, and ethics, and morality over the past two nights. Some of the discussion that has stuck with me has been around science. We have the Vancouver Aquarium saying what they do is necessary and important and impossible to replicate elsewhere. I don’t doubt for a minute that the aquarium is made up of dedicated people. I don’t doubt that their intention is to do good. I do however question that this is the only place they can do good science.
We had a scientist and researcher who told us that belugas are adaptable, that they live in small confined areas for parts of their lives — but he didn’t say they live in small confined areas for all their lives, and to me this is important. Sometimes it is what is not said that is important — and I will return to that later.
We had an employee of the aquarium tell us only they know what is best, only they are working on conservation, only they have the best interests of the animals in mind. I find this arrogance intolerable. But I find this arrogance runs right from the top of this organization. We have heard contempt and arrogance for years.
We are told that science is good. And I agree. We as a species have attained great things through science. But we have also created horrors. Agent orange, DDT, Thalidomide. These are all the result of scientific experiments. In the last century. both the Nazis and the Imperial Japanese Army committed atrocities in the name of science. So, science is a two-edged sword and we must always balance the good with the bad. Do the ends always justify the means? I think not.
We heard an employee of the aquarium talk passionately about her connection to the animals and how that connection inspired her. She spoke of a captive animal smiling at her through the glass partition. That is just as big an anthropomorphism as any I have heard the conservation community accused of. That smile could easily be interpreted as a grimace of pain and suffering.
The speaker who inspired me the most was the one who asked what greater accomplishments could the aquarium attain if they did not have cetaceans in captivity. What new and innovative ways of doing science would be stimulated if they had to rethink what they do and how they do it.
The topic here tonight is important. Just debating it has led to a new development and offer from the aquarium. Just two years ago, they scoffed at the idea of non-breeding captivity. Now they are proposing it — necessity truly is the mother of invention. They have always said that whales were an integral part of their program and they could not survive without them — now they are proposing to end belugas in captivity in 2029. But more importantly they now say with or without cetaceans, the aquarium will continue.
What they have not said, however, is that if the residents of Vancouver vote in a non-binding plebiscite to end cetacean captivity they will adhere to those results — no, what they have said is that in in 2018 or '19, they will bring back belugas until 2029 and they will not then or in 10 years later end all cetaceans in captivity.
We debate this tonight because it falls within our jurisdiction. The aquarium is in a Vancouver park and therefore falls within the mandate of this elected board. If it was at UBC, it would be a matter for Metro Vancouver. If it was at the quay in New Westminster, it would be for that city to decide. If it was in Langley, it would be those voters. But it is not. It is a matter for this board to decide what happens in our parks.
Commissioners, the time to act is now. The aquarium has no intention of listening to us or listening to the voters. They have no intention of ending captivity for cetaceans themselves. Therefore, we must do it here and now.
That is why I am proposing a change in the by-law to end captivity. We have the power and authority to do so. Let us do so now. The fate of these creatures is in our hands.
As I have often said around this table, we must not only do good, but we must also be seen to do good. Let us do good tonight. Let us be seen to do good. Let us end cetaceans in captivity in Vancouver parks. Please support a by-law change to end cetaceans in captivity.

© 2017 Vancouver Courier - See more at: http://www.vancourier.com/news/mackinnon-s-definitive-decision-on-cetaceans-in-vancouver-parks-1.11427948#sthash.DH4XnIZM.dpuf

10 March 2017

Unanimous Support for Green Commissioner Mackinnon's Motion on Cetacean Bylaw



For Immediate Release - Friday, March 10, 2017


Unanimous Support for Green Commissioner
Mackinnon's Motion on Cetacean Bylaw


Vancouver, BC - Last night, the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation unanimously voted to amend the Parks Control By-law to prohibit cetacean captivity in Vancouver Parks.

The Park Board considered four options and heard from speakers over the course of two consecutive evenings. The options included:
  1. Call on City Council to include an assent question (plebiscite) in the 2018 municipal election.
  2. Accept the Aquarium's February 20th announced plans (bring back belugas from other institutions to the Vancouver Aquarium but discontinue display of belugas by 2029).
  3. Amend the Parks Control By-laws (including a ban).
  4. Maintain the status quo.

After hearing from speakers, Green Commissioner Stuart Mackinnon moved and NPA Commissioner Sarah Kirby-Yung seconded the following motion:

"THAT the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation directs staff to bring forward for enactment by the Board an amendment to the Parks Control By-law to prohibit the importation and display of live cetaceans in Vancouver parks and report back not later than May 15, 2017."

In 2010, Commissioner Mackinnon moved a motion calling for a plebiscite on the future of cetaceans in captivity in Vancouver Parks in the 2011 Vancouver municipal election. While that motion did not succeed, his latest motion calling for a ban was supported unanimously.  After hearing from speakers, one by one, each of the seven commissioners voted in support of the motion.

"Tonight is the culmination of thousands of caring people's work. I stand shoulder to shoulder in pride with them. It was a very good night," said Mackinnon of the outcome of the vote.

-30-

For more information, contact:
Stuart Mackinnon: 778-389-1956


 Green Party of Vancouver

21 February 2017

Despite mystery over deaths, belugas to return to Vancouver aquarium


DOMINIKA LIRETTE  Globe & Mail February 21, 2017
 
The Vancouver Aquarium plans to bring back beluga whales by the spring of 2019, despite not knowing what killed two of the mammals last November.
 
Dr. John Nightingale, aquarium chief executive officer and president, said he hopes to bring in three to five belugas, but the facility plans to discontinue the display of belugas by 2029. This is the same year the aquarium’s lease expires with the Vancouver Park Board.
 
“We have not found a definitive cause as to how the animals died,” the aquarium’s head veterinarian Dr. Martin Haulena, said at a media event on Monday. They have not been able to rule out that something malicious happened.
 
The aquarium’s findings so far suggest it was a toxin that killed Qila, a 21-year-old beluga, and its 30-year-old mother, Aurora, 10 days later.
 
“It’s the worst thing that has happened in my professional career” said Dr. Haulena.
 
The aquarium has spent more than $100,000 on an ongoing investigation into the belugas’ deaths. Dr. Haulena said new belugas will not be brought into the facility until modifications have been made including increased security, better pest control and an examination of the run-off from soil surrounding the tank. Dr. Nightingale said the aquarium cannot guarantee there are no risks to the belugas, but it is trying to reduce them as much as possible.
 
He said the new belugas will be brought back primarily for research purposes and will be non-breeding.
 
He argues that the Arctic is changing at an unprecedented level and studying belugas in a controlled environment is necessary to better understand them.
 
The aquarium stopped bringing belugas into captivity in 1996. They research ones brought in before then, as well as those bred in captivity and ones that have been rescued and cannot be released. The aquarium still owns five belugas that are on loan outside of Vancouver.
 
“Some of our belugas are likely to come back,” said Dr. Nightingale. It is unknown how many there will be, however there is a possibility that belugas not owned by the aquarium could be brought in since they all must be non-breeding.
 
When the Park Board looked into bringing in a breeding ban two years ago, the aquarium said it wasn’t possible.
 
“Now, they’ve turned around, done a 180 and said this is what they want to do,” said Park Board Commissioner Stuart Mackinnon.
 
Plans to double the size of the beluga tank will continue to move forward as part of the aquarium’s $100-million expansion, despite announcing that it will phase out the public display of belugas by 2029.
 
“Why would they invest that money if they have plans to phase them out in 12 years?” wonders Mr. Mackinnon. “If that’s the case, why don’t they just phase them out now?”
 
The commissioner thinks the announcement may be in anticipation of the next Park Board meeting that will debate the captivity of cetaceans. At an earlier meeting on Jan. 24, the board decided to wait on recommending a plebiscite in order to look into other options.
 
“This isn’t them showing leadership,” said former Park Board chair Aaron Jasper. “I think this is finally, begrudgingly, coming to terms with the reality that as a society and at the political level, attitudes have shifted away from their breeding practices.”
 
Mr. Jasper had proposed in 2014, a breeding ban on whales in captivity, but the bylaw wasn’t passed.
 
“The lease is up in 2029,” said the former chair. “I think they know that going forward, no board in good conscience, would renew a lease with an aquarium that was still going full-steam ahead with their breeding program.”
 

15 February 2017

The problem of Dog Poo isn't going away

During the last civic election, Michael Wiebe and I campaigned on finding alternatives to dog owners putting plastic bags of waste into public garbage totes. After we were both elected we brought up this issue and were told that it would be discussed in the 'dog strategy'. This new staff report will be coming before the Park Board this year and I know both Michael and I will be keen to see what staff will be recommending. In the meantime, other municipalities in the region are moving ahead with their own strategies. Here is an article from Metro with an idea from North Van.

Dog-Waste-Only bins coming to a park near you

Mosquito Creek, Kings Mill Walk, and Lynnmouth Park will be the test sites for the pilot program, in an attempt to keep dog poop out of landfills.

By: Wanyee Li Metro Published on February 15, 2017  

More than 350,000 dogs poo in Metro Vancouver’s parks every day, according to the region’s website. Several cities are now installing dog-waste-only bins to ensure that waste goes where it belongs – in a sewage treatment facility and not the landfill.
North Vancouver is piloting a Dog-Waste-Only garbage program with designated waste bins in Mosquito Creek, Kings Mill Walk, and Lynnmouth Park. City crews will empty the bins once a week, according to the city’s website. 
The city will audit the waste bins at the end of 2017 and add more dog-waste-only bins if the program is successful. 
The City of Vancouver started a similar pilot program in the summer of 2016 and maintains dog-waste-only bins in Charleson Park, John Hendry Park, and Grimmett Park.
Surrey is trying a different approach, with a weekly dog-poo collection service for residents at $5 per week.
(c)  Metro Published on Tue Feb 14 2017


If you are interested in Vancouver's Dog strategy why not come out and share your views at one of the open houses:

People, Parks, and Dogs (Dog Strategy)
Park Board staff and Space 2 Place Landscape Architects are launching the second round of public consultation on the Park Board’s Dog strategy, consisting of small group meeting with stakeholders and two public open houses. Dates for open houses:
 
  • Wednesday, February 15, 5:30 – 8:30 pm at Langara Golf Course Clubhouse --- Rescheduled from Thursday, February 16.
  • Saturday, February 18, 1 – 4 pm at Kitsilano Community Centre
  • Monday, February 20, 5:30 – 8:30 pm at Wise Hall
  • Saturday, February 25, 1 – 4 pm at East Fraser Lands Showroom
  • Wednesday, March 1, 5:30 – 8:30 pm at VPL Central Branch
  • Saturday, March 4, 1 – 4 pm at PNE Hastings Room