thumb DespicableCity council creates task force to help determine fate of controversial ingredient

A shark fin task force was the temporary solution after a Jan. 28 council meeting to determine whether the ingredient — primarily used in Chinese cuisine — would be banned in Calgary.

The task force would include key members from groups for and against the serving of this much-debated food, as well as any interested aldermen.

The purpose of the group is to help relieve tension and facilitate discussion between parties that have conflicting opinions about shark fin use.

Sharkfin SupportA number of supporters showed up to support the shark fin ban.

Photo by Curtis Dowhaniuk

Where do the Aldermen stand?

In favour of shark fin task force:
Naheed Nenshi
Dale Hodges
Gord Lowe
Gael Macleod
Ray Jones
Richard Pootmans
Druh Farrell
John Mar
Shane Keating
Peter Demong

Against shark find task force:
Jim Stevenson
Gian-Carlo Carr
Andre Chabot
Brian Pincott
Diane Colley-Urquhart

If instated, the bylaw would prohibit the storing, sales and consumption of shark fin in Calgary restaurants. The most popular use of the ingredient is in Chinese soup traditionally served during important events such as weddings.

Those waiting for voting results on the city's shark fin ban will be waiting a little longer.

Supporter of the shark fin ban, Ald. Brian Pincott proposed instatement of the bylaw by the end of the meeting.

But Ald. Druh Farrell, who suggested forming a task force, said, "Cultural change is a difficult thing and that's what we really need here.

"It's a difficult road, but it's always more successful when solutions are community based."

While the majority of Calgary aldermen agreed on the task force, Ald. Gian-Carlo Carra was one of those opposed to the idea.

"We've got all these cameras here today not because we're thinking about establishing a task force, because we're thinking of making a decision," Carra said. "I will not support this referral."

Shark Fin Free Calgary, an anti-shark fin group, attended the meeting in matching light blue T-shirts to show their support for the bylaw.

Though they did not show up matching, the Coalition for Transparent & Accountable Governance, an advocacy group based out of Chinatown, was the main opposition for banning shark fins in Calgary.

In the end, it was decided that the motion to ban shark fin, already given approval in principle, did not reach the necessary requirements to become a bylaw.

The motion for the formation of a task force was passed by a 10-5 vote.

Ingrid Kuenzel, a spokesperson for Shark Fin Free Calgary, was among the many left shaking their heads.

"While we are obviously disappointed in the decision today, we do respect councils concern for open dialogue between community members," Kuenzel said.

Kuenzel said that the time to talk has been for the past 18 months.
But Richard Poon, a spokesperson for CTAG, is quite happy to have the opportunity for discourse.

For Poon, the shark fin bylaw is only a jumping off point. The goal of the CTAG is to get city council to be more involved in community discussion, which has now been achieved.

{acepolls 30}

cdowhaniuk@cjournal.ca
gbarraza@cjournal.ca

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