It has been three months since a delegation appeared at a Burnaby council meeting to advocate for a shark fin ban in the city, but it was only yesterday that the City of Burnaby began receiving scads of e-petitions on the issue.
"It started this afternoon and I have 139 of them," Sharon Fuller, administrative assistant for the office of the mayor, said. "There's another one! We've got 140."
Vancouver council passed a motion to work towards a regional shark fin ban with Burnaby and Richmond at a council meeting Tuesday, according to The Province newspaper.
On Wednesday afternoon, Burnaby Coun. Dan Johnston tweeted that he'd received 200 e-petitions in support of a ban, and one against a ban, since 10: 30 a.m.
Burnaby council forwarded the issue to staff in June and is waiting for a staff report before making any decisions, he said in a phone interview.
"We're expecting a report," he said. "One of the things we were saying, though, is if we're going to do some sort of ban like this, it should be a regional or even provincial (ban)."
Vancouver's decision may move the issue forward, but Johnston said council hasn't committed to anything as of yet.
"It probably moves it a little closer, but I'm not sure whether there's enough support," he said. "I don't think the three major cities want to do something that puts them at a disadvantage if the other big cities aren't going to do it."
Between 60 and 70 demonstrators, including people from the Vancouver Animal Defense League and the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, gathered outside city hall in June, asking Burnaby council to ban shark fin products in the city.
Shark fin soup is considered a delicacy by some in the Chinese community and is sold at some restaurants and served at special events, such as weddings. Shark fins are usually harvested by cutting the fin off the animal and leaving it to bleed to death in the ocean.
Anthony Marr, a Vancouver animal rights activist, spoke to Burnaby council about a ban on June 25.
Activists were approaching Burnaby, Richmond and Vancouver at the same time, according to Marr, as bans in all three cities would ensure people wouldn't just hop the city border for shark fin soup.
"Burnaby's a very good place to start," Marr said, adding it is near both Richmond and Vancouver.
Burnaby also has a lower Chinese population than Vancouver and Richmond, which makes compliance with the ban more likely here, he added.
The meeting went well and Coun. Sav Dhaliwal was very encouraging of the activists' efforts, Marr said.
Since June, the councils for Port Moody, Coquitlam, the City of North Vancouver and Maple Ridge have all passed motions banning shark fin sales in those cities.
But at the June 25 meeting, Mayor Derek Corrigan said a ban isn't likely for Burnaby.
"I don't know how far the city will be inclined to go in regulating the food goods that are sold in the community," he said.
He added that council is aware of the issue but it is beyond the city's scope to regulate food products.
"We're aware of this but it's a difficult situation," he said. "The city trying to establish control on what people eat or don't eat is way beyond the jurisdiction we've exercised in the past."
The issue should be dealt with by the provincial or federal government, Corrigan added.
"We need a policy that's consistent across British Columbia and in fact Canada," he said "If we're going to ban the import of a product, then we should do so at a level where it's most effective."