MarineLand’s application to lobby Ontario government hints toward potential selling

Photo by: Annie Spratt on Unsplash

After years of numerous lawsuits and protests, as well as rumors of impending closures, it seems as though MarineLand is on the verge of selling their property.

On Jan. 10, the attraction’s lawyer, Andrew Burns, filed an application with Ontario’s lobbyist registry whilst describing the lobbying goals as the “sale of Marineland Canada Inc.” Burns also requested the influence of the Office of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, alongside other provincial legislations.

In the application, Burns also detailed the attraction’s desire for potential property zoning changes to permit development, as well as potential financial support and relief from taxation in connection with economic development of the proposal.

As of yet, Burns and Marineland have not responded to any requests. Meanwhile, Tourism Minister Neil Lumsden has said that the government has not yet discussed any plans with the park.

MarineLand, which was founded by John Holer in 1961, was taken over by Holer’s wife in 2018 following her husband’s death. The themed zoo and amusement park encompasses roughly 1,000 acres of land while drawing in more than 500,000 visitors annually as of 2018. The park consists of various aquariums, shops, rides and rollercoasters, as well as a 2,000-seat aqua-theatre.

Its possession of multiple marine animals, as well as its subsequent aquatic animal shows and exhibits, has made the attraction widely recognized across both Niagara and Canada for decades.

Despite the park’s stability, along with its highly recognized “Everyone Loves Marineland” advertisements, the attraction has also faced large controversy in recent years.

In 2017, the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Animals (OSPCA) laid 11 charges of animal cruelty against Marineland, all of which were eventually withdrawn. In Dec. 2021, the attraction was also charged for allegedly using dolphins and whales for entertainment, following the passing of Bill S-203 in 2019, which banned the breeding, capturing and confinement of cetaceans.

The park has also received much backlash for its keeping of Kiska, a 46-year-old orca whale who was sold off to the aquarium industry and has been living alone in captivity since 2011. Due to Bill S-203 having been grandfathered, Kiska and other animals who were in captivity prior to the bill’s passing have remained in confinement. Kiska’s situation has thus sparked large controversy, as well as the #FreeKiska movement and protests.

In addition to the park’s controversy regarding animal welfare, MarineLand’s water has also been under inspection since 2021.

Information regarding the park’s lobbying and subsequent sale, as well as whether such a decision is a response to any controversy, is yet to be released.

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