May 17, 2019 12:56 am
Updated: May 24, 2019 3:43 am

Victoria to debate phasing out horse-drawn carriages

WATCH: Hundreds of protesters descended on Victoria City Hall to demand council stop debating whether to ban horse-drawn carriages in the capital, saying it would damage the tourism industry. Rumina Daya reports.

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Victoria city council has approved a motion to debate phasing out one of the capital’s most iconic attractions.

“I’m proposing that the city begin to develop regulations to phase out the horse-drawn carriage industry,” said Councillor Ben Isitt. “It’s just not a good fit anymore.”

The motion would see the operations cease by the year 2023, and instead transition the industry to what Isitt is calling “e-carriages.”

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READ MORE: SPCA recommends banning horse carriages from Victoria streets following shocking video

“I guess I coined [the term] for this report. There’s literally dozens of forms of tourists transportation in communities around the world, there are hundreds of prototypes, and the only limitation on transitioning to e-carriages is our own imaginations.”

Pressure to make changes has been mounting for years, but it was one particular incident captured on video last May that prompted the BC SPCA to recommend a ban.

WARNING: Disturbing images – SPCA pushes for changes to Victoria’s horse-drawn carriages

It later clarified its response, saying, “We welcome a solutions-based policy approach that reviews existing practices, barriers and opportunities for horse carriage operations.”

The industry says it has since made an effort to make improvements, adding signage, lighting, and outfitting each rig with safety kits. An outright ban, with a shift to “e-carriages” is being called unfathamoable.

“We have people come from all over the world, everyday. This is a bucket list thing for them to do. So, you take the horse out of the carriage and what have you got? You’ve got a car,” said Tally Ho Carriage Tours Owner Donna Friedlander.

READ MORE: Victoria group wants horse-drawn carriages banned

Still, there is heavy opposition. Over the years, thousands have signed a petition in support of a ban launched by the Victoria Horse Alliance.

“What may have been okay 100 years ago, is not okay anymore and we can’t just keep living with rose-coloured glasses,” said founder Jordan Reichet.

A follow-up debate is expected in June. If endorsed, staff would begin working with the industry, phasing it out over the course of four years.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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