The BC SPCA wants Victoria council to ban horse-drawn carriages from city streets and limit their operations to a “safer park environment.”
In a letter to council to be discussed at committee of the whole this Thursday (June 7), the organization cites a May 4 incident at Ogden Point, where two horses used by Victoria Carriage Tours accidentally fell to the ground when their trolley came in contact with a bus. The letter states that the horses were “in significant stress for more than five minutes.”
A video of the incident caused public alarm, with BC SPCA and animal activists saying workers were not properly trained to handle the situation, as they didn’t immediately remove the harnesses impeding the horses’ mobility.
“The operator also failed to disclose the length of time it took handlers to adequately assess the situation, remove the harnesses, and successfully help the horses to their feet,” the letter reads. “It is decidedly troubling that Victoria Carriage Tours chose to inappropriately downplay a serious incident which put the public at risk.”
The BC SPCA recommends that the operation of horse-drawn vehicles on “traffic-congested” city streets be prohibited to “mitigate the significant risks,” with tours limited to quiet areas around parks.
Spokespersons for Victoria Carriage Tours and Tally-Ho Tours were not immediately available for comment at the time of this writing.
The BC SPCA also recommends limiting such vehicles to one-horse carriages, a move that would essentially ban trolleys that require two horses. “The introduction of this condition would reduce public safety concerns and decrease the risk of injury to a horse should another incident occur.”
Additionally, BC SPCA recommends that the horse carriage industry establish standard operating procedures and emergency management plans for urgent situations; that they create a report form for carriage handlers to fill out after any incident, and that they require each operator to have an emergency kit for each vehicle including an extra halter, four traffic cones and first aid kits for both people and horses.
A motion to be discussed at this week’s committee meeting asks for receipt of the correspondence and a request that City staff report back with advice on how best to consider the recommendations.