British Columbia

Victoria staff to consider future of horse-drawn carriages in city

Horse and carriage tour operators are saying “nay” to a proposal by Victoria City Council to look at phasing out the clip-clop of hooves on city streets.

'It's extremely concerning for us in the industry,' carriage company owner says

Donna Friedlander, owner of Tally-Ho Carriage tours in Victoria and a speaker for Victoria Carriage Tours, seen here in a 2013 photo.

Horse and carriage tour operators are saying "nay" to a proposal by Victoria City Council to look at phasing out the clip-clop of hooves on city streets.

Last week Coun. Ben Isitt proposed banning horse-and-buggy rides in the city by 2023, but councillors stopped short of that and instead voted for staff to study the implications of phasing out the industry.

Donna Friedlander, owner of Tally-Ho Carriage Tours in Victoria and a speaker for Victoria Carriage Tours, said that the issue came up at all was a surprising development and the motion adds needless uncertainty to the future of carriage businesses.

"It's extremely concerning for us in the industry," Friedlander told All Points West host Robyn Burns.

"It's just a really, really difficult position to be in to be trying to operate a business that requires extremely long-term planning.

"Our horses have 25-plus-year lifespans and that requires us to have a plan in place for them and their retirement."

Friedlander said last year, council approved a five-year lease renewal on carriage stand rentals — the longest lease ever — which makes council's decision even more surprising.

The future of horse carriages on the streets of Victoria has long been an issue of contention.

Concerns have been raised by the B.C. SPCA and others about the conditions horses work under. Carriage companies have always maintained the industry is safe for the animals.

Isitt himself has called for an end to horses in urban areas as recently as last year.

The carriage companies say they hope to discuss options around improving operational and public safety with council.

The industry and their supporters are planning a rally outside city hall on Thursday afternoon.

A report from staff is expected by September.

Listen to the full interview:

Horse and carriage tour operators are saying "nay" to a proposal by Victoria City Council to look at phasing out the clip-clop of hooves on city streets. 9:47

With files from CBC Radio One's All Points West and Chek News

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