PEI·Video

Charlottetown's horse-drawn carriages disappear

Charlottetown is losing a horse-and-carriage service that offered visitors a unique tour of the city.

Emerald Island Tours has lost barn in Charlottetown to stable horses

Carriage-horse conundrum

8 years ago
Duration 2:37
A horse-and-carriage company that operates in Charlottetown may not be able to continue in the city because stabling downtown has been dismantled.

Charlottetown is losing a horse-and-carriage service that offered visitors a unique tour of the city.

What I would love to see happen is a livery barn in Charlottetown open to the public.- Sarah Greenan

The owner of the service told CBC News she can't afford to truck the draft horses and carriage from the country to go to work each day.

Sarah Greenan has been running the tours for eight years under the name Emerald Island Tours. The large carriages and her horses were stabled at the Red Shores harness racing track, but the temporary barn she had been using has been torn down.

Sarah Greenan has been offering horse-drawn tours of Charlottetown since 2008. (Emerald Island Tours)
"I can go back to the racetrack, but I would have to build my own barn. We can't afford, you know, $50,000 to put on someone else's property," said Greenan.

She said her only option would be to truck the horses and carriage in from her farm in the community of Crapaud, 40 kilometres outside of the capital. Those added expenses would put a carriage ride out of reach for most visitors.

The tourism operator said she can't even find a space big enough in the downtown to park her horse trailer and the flatbed truck to transport the carriage.

Plan to share her passion

Greenan said she does have a plan, but needs some help to see it through. The company would like to build a working barn in the historic downtown where she could run her business and the public could pay a visit.

"What I would love to see happen is a livery barn in Charlottetown open to the public, like a living museum," she said.

There are other communities where similar barns are operating and draw tourists. But Greenan said spending money to buy land and then ask for permission to build is something she can't afford.

Charlottetown Mayor Clifford Lee says Greenan can apply for a variance to build a barn before she buys a property. (CBC)

Charlottetown Mayor Clifford Lee does not dispute the charm the horses bring to the historic downtown. He said, however, the city does not have space to offer Greenan.

"She needs to identify the site, she needs then to go through the normal planning process," said Lee.

"It would be irresponsible, and quite frankly unfair of city council to give any type of approval before going through the process."

The mayor added Greenan does not have to buy land before applying for the variance. The bylaws allow for the current owner to apply for permission on behalf of a potential owner. Those same bylaws also allow a property owner to designate a potential buyer as an agent who can then apply for the proper permissions.

Greenan said she hopes to find a solution soon. The first cruise ships of the season are due to arrive in Charlottetown this weekend.

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