--> Getting It Right: Vancouver Aquarium Expansion

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Vancouver Aquarium Expansion

Last year my daughter held her birthday party at the Vancouver Aquarium. It was just a couple of days after the arrival of two new dolphins from Japan and spirits were high among staff and visitors alike.

The highly-trained birthday guides combined a tour through the public galleries, a “behind the scenes” salmon feeding opportunity and a good old-fashioned scavenger hunt to make it a party worth remembering.

For many years, our family has held an aquarium membership. On rainy winter days it is a great way to escape the house and for the kids (and adults) to learn more about our unique coastal ecosystem.

We’ve also participated in the Great Canadian Shoreline Clean Up held each summer. This program aims to keep our shores free from materials hazardous to birds, fish and other wildlife- including people.

Needless to say, our family is very supportive of the aquarium’s efforts to revitalize its Stanley Park site with new habitat for the Steller sea lions, sea otters and sea birds, as well as enlarged pools for the belugas. The aquarium is also planning an expansion onto land once occupied by the Stanley Park Zoo and moving the salmon run exhibit that my daughter so enjoyed during her birthday visit.

Being Vancouver, these plans are not without controversy.

The Coalition for No Whales in Captivity is a vocal group that has long pressured the aquarium and Parks Board to develop in a direction that doesn’t include large sea mammals.

The Coalition is aghast that the Parks Board this week voted to rescind an earlier resolution that called for a public referendum before any further aquarium expansion could occur.

Instead the Parks Board has decided that a thorough public consultation process is far more effective than a one-off vote, which could be subject to high-jacking by special interest groups.

Because of the passion around the issue, one could foresee a referendum campaign dominated by shots of sad-looking dolphins behind bars – a very different reality from what one experiences at the well-run Vancouver Aquarium.

Of course, it would have been far easier for the Parks Board commissioners to pass the buck on the aquarium expansion and not take responsibility for the decision.

Instead, they are facing the public directly and will jointly manage a public consultation process which will be marked, I’m sure, with protests and a negative publicity.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Vancouver Aquarium. In those 50 years, it has evolved from a traditional zoo-like experience into a marine science centre known internationally for its commitment to research and conservation.

The expansion before the public is the logical next step on that journey.

You can learn more about the Aquarium’s activities at www.vanaqua.org.

(As seen today in 24 Hours)

15 Comments:

At 11:55 PM, Blogger YVRpilot said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 11:59 PM, Blogger YVRpilot said...

You're certainly on your way to being part of the next "Top 40 under 40". ;)
I'm very impressed by you and I enjoy reading your commentaries.

 
At 1:42 PM, Anonymous Sean P., Vancouver-Quilchena said...

Erin,

I have to agree with Henry Zea, just above me!

We don't agree 100% of the time, but I do admire your opinion.

 
At 9:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Erin,

I totally agree with your viewpoint
on the Vancouver Aquarium.
My company will receive a huge
dollar amount contract to
do construction at the Aquarium.

The more expansion and improvements the better.

We need to have far more formerly
free roaming animals caged.

Because of your excellent article
I have instructed my other companies to advertise in your
newspaper.

;-)

Bernie

 
At 1:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your opposition to "...a one-off vote, which could be subject to high-jacking by special interest groups" is amusing. Far better to have a Parks Board hijacked by special interest groups than rely on the views of a notoriously fickle and ill-informed electorate. In fact, why not do away with democracy altogether? Those in authority are in the best position to decide important matters like these. What does the average voter (not employed by the Aquarium) know about marine mammals or the tourist industry anyway? What's the point of being a member of an elite if you have to share power with a bunch of common hoi-polloi? We know feudalism works, let's give it another chance, right?

 
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