New Westminster News Leader

Council goes ahead with shark fin ban

New Westminster is going ahead with its ban on the sale of shark fins and shark fin products even though an Ontario court has shot down a similar bylaw in Toronto,.

City council approved the ban at its meeting on Monday following a public hearing at which no opposition to its adoption was raised. Only one New Westminster establishment, Kirin Restaurant at the Starlight Casino, lists shark fin soup on its menu.

Councillors said they wanted to send a message to the federal and provincial governments to deal with the practice of cutting fins off sharks which they believe is cruel and detrimental to the ecosystem.

Last Friday, Ontario Superior Court Judge James Spence ruled Toronto's bylaw invalid because it wasn't an issue for a municipality to deal with and it would have a detrimental effect on restaurant operators and Chinese culture.

"We're showing we don't want it in New Westminster. If ours gets shot down, so what. We're saying we don't want this," said Coun. Betty McIntosh. "We've made our opinion known."

Coun. Jonathan Coté said if New West's bylaw gets challenged the city will deal with it then.

"Ultimately there's a much larger issue for the upper levels of government have to look at, both provincial and federal," said Coté. "I'm comfortable going ahead. Certainly if challenges started to come against British Columbia municipalities it would be worth looking at whether we should be changing the bylaw or not."

Coquitlam, Port Moody and the City of North Vancouver have all adopted similar bans. Vancouver, Richmond and Burnaby are also contemplating approving them, but had been awaiting the Ontario ruling before proceeding.

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