Animal rights activists, groups request Niagara Falls city council rename Marineland Parkway

Animal rights activists and organizations have sent a letter to Niagara Falls city council requesting Marineland Parkway be renamed to something “more befitting of the current vision, mission and values ​​the city reflects.”

When Marineland opened in 1961, the themed zoo and amusement park became an international draw for the city. But over the years, Marineland has also become the target of critics for allowing animals to perform for entertainment and has had cruelty and neglect accusations levied against it, allegations the park has denied.

An amendment to the Criminal Code passed in 2019 made it an offense to have dolphins and whales performing for entertainment purposes, which is part of the federal government’s anti-captivity legislation.

Niagara Regional Police, in late 2021, charged the park with using captive cetaceans for entertainment purposes without authorization, after receiving a complaint. The case remains before the courts.

Marineland has denied the allegations, saying its dolphins and whales are part of an educational presentation designed by experts.

And last month, police launched another investigation following a complaint Marineland held illegal dolphin shows during its May opening weekend.

The letter to city council, dated June 14 and included in Tuesday’s agenda package, is signed by Sabrina Constance Hill, of The Vittoria Foundation, Canada, and Marie Baggio, a concerned Niagara Falls resident. Several names appear under their signatures, including local activist Phil Demers, and officials with animal rights organizations.

The letter said street names may be selected for many reasons — sometimes to honor local or national historical figures that drive the local economy.

“We feel that, in this case, changing the name to Kiska Boulevard reflects the city’s progressive attitudes and beliefs and is more in line with how society now sees holding captive and commodifying these beautiful, intelligent and social sea mammals for entertainment purposes,” said the letter.

“Additionally, it’s a common practice when naming streets to avoid or confer any competitive advantage, benefit or preferential treatment or advertisement to a particular business.

“On the other hand, assigning a real or ceremonial name to a street in honor of an individual who has made a significant and exceptional positive contribution to a city portrays a strong, positive image. Perhaps in recognition of a lifelong resident such as Kiska (Marineland’s lone killer whale), and her substantial and outstanding positive contribution to Niagara Falls, we consider naming this stretch of road in honor of her.”

The letter said as a gateway to Canada, Niagara Falls is “more than just a municipality, it’s a community that prides itself on openness, history and tradition, inclusion and diversity.

“That pride is best reflected in how it presents itself to the millions that visit each year. In celebrating the achievements and development of the city, Niagara Falls should never lose sight of the present while also focusing on the future. It’s time that Niagara evolves with the prevailing attitudes of most Canadians on confining intelligent sea mammals purely for entertainment.”

The letter said if council rejects the suggested name, “we hope that the city council will unite around a character that symbolizes the best values, history, tradition and inclusivity of Niagara as a community and an international destination.”

Staff is recommending council refer the request to them.

In a separate report to council, which is also included in Tuesday’s agenda, staff recommends council hold street-naming requests in abeyance until an honorary policy is established.

The report said staff and council consistently receive requests to rename streets after prominent people in the community.

“Street names are an important part of the community fabric, as names contribute to creating a sense of place, community and identity,” said the report.

“Potential street name changes also raise concerns, such as cost and inconvenience, for those area residents and businesses impacted. In addition, street name changes can cause fire safety and 911 responder complications if they are not thoroughly vetted.”

Due to the multitude of issues related to renaming streets but understanding the requests for prominent people in the community to be honoured, staff recommend the city establish a policy whereby an individual, group or organization who has had a positive impact on the municipality would be recognized for their accomplishments without causing disruption or inconvenience to the residents or businesses on a street.

The policy and details of the administration of the program will be outlined in a future report to council, said staff.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.