At tonight’s Vancouver Park Board meeting, park commissioner’s will decide on the public consultation process for the Vancouver Aquarium’s planned expansion. The Aquarium wants an almost one-third increase to their Stanley Park facility. The expansion, which could take up to another acre out of the Park, would include additional sea mammal pools and a larger restaurant or cafeteria.
"The NPA have designed this consultation process on the Aquarium to get the results they want,” said COPE Commissioner Loretta Woodcock. “The public are being asked if they really like the AQ expansion, or if they really, really like it."
COPE Commissioner Spencer Herbert says he cannot support the NPA’s proposed consultation because it is neither fair nor broad based.
“It worries me to think the NPA believe they can trick people into supporting an expansion. The Aquarium does good work – so why are the NPA so afraid of fairness, and of letting Vancouverites decide if they want the Aquarium to have up to another acre of Stanley Park?" said Herbert.
The Vancouver Aquarium has been the focus of controversy for keeping cetaceans and other marine mammals captive. In 2005, the previous COPE Park Board had approved a referendum on the issue. But the new NPA majority are opposed to a public vote and squashed the referendum earlier this year, promising instead a fair and wide ranging consultation.
"We will not allow the NPA to fast track this expansion proposal in Stanley Park. Since the NPA took away the public’s right to vote on this – an open and transparent consultation process is what we’re demanding," said COPE Commissioners Herbert and Woodcock.
Meanwhile the Aquarium, which brought in more than $24 million in revenues in 2004, continues to pay only $40,000 to the Park Board for the use of prime space in Stanley Park.
Tonight’s Park Board meeting will be held at 7 pm at the Trout Lake Community Centre.