The Vancouver Aquarium has a rich, 55-year history as a conservation organization. Its nation-wide conservation initiatives, education programs and research aim to connect people to our natural world. And it does so through its direct engagement with nearly a million visitors a year and millions more via digital channels.
The Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation (“the Park Board”) is a civic body overseen by seven elected officials. It is responsible for managing more than 200 parks and recreation facilities, including Stanley Park, in the City of Vancouver. In this capacity, the Park Board leases land within Stanley Park to the Vancouver Aquarium and must approve any changes to the terms and conditions of the Aquarium’s lease.
At the request of the Park Board, an extensive public consultation program took place in September and October of 2006. The results provided input on future Aquarium expansion design and demonstrated overwhelming support for the project.
In November 2006 the Park Board approved the current project, authorizing the expansion of the Aquarium’s lease and the revitalization of public spaces surrounding it. In June 2007 the Park Board endorsed the Vancouver Aquarium’s proposal to submit an application for a Development Permit to the City of Vancouver. The Development Permit was issued in November 2011.
The expansion and revitalization has now started with the completion of the new North entrance through which visitors now enter the Aquarium during construction. The next step is to prepare the site south of the Aquarium in preparation for future construction.
The area south of the Aquarium is being redeveloped to enhance both the Aquarium and restore the natural west coast vegetation. The site south of the Aquarium was the location for the old Stanley Park zoo; during the zoo development flower beds and exotic trees were planted. With the removal of the zoo in 1995 these artificial beds and non-native trees, although attractive, were out of place in west coast forest setting.
As part of the Aquarium’s revitalization we will fund both removal of non-native plants and trees, and renewal of the landscaping directly to the south of the new building. The Vancouver Aquarium along with Stanley Park Forest Management, landscapers and First Nations have collaboratively created an integrated design, bringing back the natural flora of the region that will also support local wildlife. Trees removed from the site will be replaced at a ratio of two to one and all the new species to be planted will be pre-approved by the Park. Over the next 50 to 100 years these trees and associated under storey will continue to support our unique west coast forest in the heart of Vancouver.
The City’s Parks and Recreation Department through their arborist will manage the tree removal process. Some trees are being removed adjacent to the Aquarium before early March this year to avoid the bird nesting season.