A last-ditch effort from a group of carriage-horse owners and drivers to stop the City of Montreal from banning calèches starting next year has failed.
Quebec Superior Court Justice Michel A. Pinsonnault rejected the owners’ request for an injunction against the city to overturn the long-awaited moratorium on calèches in a Montreal courthouse on Friday morning.
The injunction request asked the court to quash the ban until a full hearing could be held, with the lawyer representing the applicants arguing the drivers have a legal right to make a living.
While Pinsonnault acknowledged the case deserves to be heard on its merits, he ruled the drivers’ request was made too late and that the group didn’t demonstrate that an emergency injunction is needed.
The Montreal bylaw prohibits horse-drawn carriages on city streets as of Jan. 1, 2020, and the drivers’ permits will automatically expire as well.
The city gave calèche drivers a full year comply and transition to another form of employment. Owners were also offered $1,000 per horse to retire their animals.
Luc Desparois, who owns more than a dozen horses and carriages, told Global News earlier in the week that the horse-drawn carriages in Montreal are a longstanding tradition that shouldn’t be overhauled.
After their injunction was rejected, drivers said they intend to save their industry and that the fight is not over.
Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante applauded the decision, saying it confirms the city’s bylaw is “fair and sound.”
“Our administration made a promise and we delivered,” she wrote on social media. “Montreal is an animal-friendly city.”
The Plante administration introduced the ban when it announced it was tightening its animal welfare laws in June 2018. The decision came after years of debate between animal welfare advocates and owners.
The Montreal SPCA, an organization that has long fought against horse-drawn carriages in the city, said it is satisfied with the decision.
“Now that the ban has been upheld by the courts, we hope that horse owners will make the responsible and compassionate decision to enroll their animals in our placement program in order to provide them with the peaceful retirement they deserve after years of service,” the SPCA said in a statement.
— With files from Global News’ Dan Spector, Tim Sargeant and the Canadian Press