Calèches will be banned by 2020 under Montreal's new animal control bylaw

There have been a few hundred complaints and four accidents involving calèches since 2014, the city said.

The proposed regulations were announced today by the Plante administration

The city has already handed out 24 permits for this year and 2019. (Morgan Lowrie/Canadian Press)

Montreal's new animal control bylaws would see the city's controversial calèche horse industry banned starting on Dec. 31, 2019.

The proposed regulations were announced today by the Plante administration. They've garnered support and opposition from stakeholders. 

"2019 will be the last year of calèches in Montreal," said Coun. Craig Sauvé at a press conference Thursday.

The city has already handed out 24 permits for this year and 2019.

Sauvé said the city believes that will give drivers enough time to find other jobs. "We think it will be a smooth and just transition," he said.

There have been a few hundred complaints and four accidents involving calèches since 2014, the city said. In 2016 and 2017, 14 infractions were recorded in relation to the health of the horses or the state of the calèches.

The SPCA welcomed the city's announcement, saying it has campaigned for 150 years to have calèches outlawed in downtown Montreal.

"The end of this industry marks an important victory for our organization and demonstrates just how our relationships to animals are evolving," said Sophie Gaillard, a lawyer with the group's animal defence department, in a statement.

The measures, which were approved by the city's executive committee this week, will be brought to a vote in city council on Monday. They are expected to come into effect in August.

Advocating for calèches

Luc Desparois, who runs a calèche company called Lucky Luc, said he thinks Plante doesn't know what she's talking about when it comes to calèche rides.

"The relationship that's formed with an animal, the smile that children have when they come see the horse, even adults, parents," Desparois said. "People come to Old Montreal, often, to see the horses."

Luc Desparois, who runs a calèche company called Lucky Luc, said he thinks Plante doesn't know what she's talking about when it comes to calèche rides. (Radio-Canada)

He added that about 50 people will lose their jobs if the bylaw passes.

In the last few years, he said, media attention has painted a negative picture of the calèche industry.

Plante's party, Projet Montréal, has been pushing for stricter measures to ensure the safety of calèche horses for years.

After a stretch of sweltering days in the summer of 2015, Projet's Sterling Downey said the city needed to be "more vigilant and proactive in enforcing rules of this industry."

That same summer, protesters called for a calèche ban in the city, arguing it's cruel to make horses work long hours in difficult conditions, including intense heat and traffic.

Former mayor Denis Coderre put in place stricter rules for calèche operators last summer, but failed to ban them altogether.