Victoria’s horse drawn carriages are one step closer to being phased out as the motion put forward last week by Coun. Ben Isitt was voted to the next step in the process.
With five votes in favour and three opposed, city staffers will go through the process of understanding the amount of work it would take to implement the motion and report back to Victoria council on Sept. 7.
The plan would mean amending the 2019-2022 Strategic Plan to “develop regulations to phase out commercial horse-drawn carriage operations on city streets by 2023, providing adequate notice to operators, employees and members of the public.”
Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps said she would not support putting the motion forward for further discussion citing the work that went into drafting the strategic plan and the large amount of community engagement it would involve to put this motion forward. According to Helps no new information has been made available since the strategic plan was implemented, adding the main focus was affordable housing and climate change.
“We’re in a climate emergency, not a horse emergency.”
Coun. Charalyne Thorton-Joe agreed with Helps’ decision to not support Isitt’s motion, citing her meetings with the B.C. SPCA every six months, she said their main concern is for dairy cows, sled dogs and housing for people with pets.
Thorton added that if the strategic plan were to be amended there are other issues she’d like to see brought before council before dealing with horse-drawn carriages.
Coun. Geoff Young said he did not support the motion as well despite the downsides that have been brought to council’s attention but said he believes more people are injured or killed by car crashes than the number of accidents involving a run away horse.
Isitt said the changing environmental conditions are reason enough to consider changing the regulations. Adding that he agrees with the mayor that there are bigger priorities for public engagement and he sees this as a housekeeping matter that is long overdue.
Coun. Laurel Collins said she was torn over the decision as her top priorities are also affordable housing and climate change. Coun. Jeremey Loveday supported the move to push the motion to the quarterly update.
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