Vancouver Park Board and Aquarium reach new lease agreement, lawsuit dropped

Vancouver Courier

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Vancouver Park Board and the Vancouver Aquarium announced Tuesday morning a new agreement that will allow the aquarium to remain in Stanley Park for the next 35 years.

As part of the agreement, Ocean Wise, which operates the aquarium, has confirmed its 2018 commitment to no longer display cetaceans in the park and has dropped all legal action launched since the park board’s bylaw restricting cetaceans in Vancouver parks.

Vancouver Aquarium
Vancouver Park Board and the Vancouver Aquarium announced Tuesday morning a new agreement that will allow the aquarium to remain in Stanley Park for the next 35 years. Photo: Dan Toulgoet

“The new licence agreement marks the start of an exciting new chapter in Ocean Wise’s evolution and provides the foundation for our ambitious five-year strategic plan,” president and CEO Lasse Gustavsson said in a press release. “We appreciate the Park Board’s support for Ocean Wise’s evolution and are thrilled that the Vancouver Aquarium is staying in Stanley Park, which has been its home since 1956.”

In May, the Ocean Wise launched a lawsuit seeking damages and citing revenue loss stemming from the May 2017 cetacean ban. The lawsuit claimed the ban had resulted in a 13 per cent decline in attendance in 2017 and 2018, and a loss of nearly $4 million in revenues each year.

Over the years, the aquarium has attracted more than 45 million visitors from around the world. It’s touted as a world class visitor attraction that is home to thousands of ocean species and aquatic life.

“The Vancouver Aquarium in Stanley Park is a partner for the biodiversity and ecological issues we both champion,” said park board chair Stuart Mackinnon. “We look forward to a new future with Ocean Wise as leaders in awareness of the vital role of our oceans and sharing the importance of conservation with their visitors.”

With the new agreement in place, Ocean Wise plans to launch a new five-year vision in January 2020 with a focus on conservation, public education, governance and enhancing the visitor experience. Ocean Wise also plans to continue investing in research programs, which have contributed to global knowledge of marine wildlife.

“Ocean Wise aspires to become a global ocean conservation organization and wants to inspire people in every corner of the planet to participate in creating healthy oceans, but for most people the ocean and ‘out of sights, out of mind,’” Gustavsson said. “There are many threats to the ocean, but the greatest threat is that many believe someone else is going to save it. Ocean Wise has an important role to bring the ocean to the people and the people to the ocean, and the Vancouver Aquarium is one of the best tools we have to do that.”

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