After a horse died pulling a carriage in Montreal on Nov. 4, Jordan Reichert will remind Victoria city council of BC SPCA’s recommendations to stop the industry in the Vancouver Island city.
“I will be calling on council to fulfill what I see is their obligation to address this issue and to ban the horse carriages in Victoria, finally,” Reichert, the founder of Victoria Horse Alliance, said. “When we have a death of a horse in Montreal or New York or wherever it is, it exemplifies the problem of this industry all over the world. When we enable it to continue here in Victoria, we are promoting that industry.”
Earlier in 2018, Victoria council sent the recommendations of BC SPCA to city staff to report back. Reichert said the issue fell to the wayside during the municipal election, and he wants to bring new councillors up to speed.
Since BC SPCA submitted their recommendations and reasons to ban the industry in June, the second horse carriage incident of the year happened at Ogden Point in August. Then, when Environment Canada issued an air quality warning, Reichert said horses still worked outside.
“The welfare of the animals in the horse-drawn carriage industry is of utmost concern for all stakeholders. This is not only true for the general public, but also for the operators and Destination Victoria,” Paul Nursey, Destination Victoria’s CEO said ahead of the council meeting. ”City of Victoria staff are reviewing horse-drawn carriage operations and no changes to the current framework have been made. Greater Victoria has a diverse product offering and strong tourism brand, and the horse-carriage industry has historically been a major component of that. We will collaborate with the City and the horse-drawn-carriage industry to resolve any issues that arise.”
Reichert said Victoria should follow Montreal’s lead and enact their own ban. Horse-drawn carriages will become part of Montreal’s history by the end of 2019. The death of a horse while it was working in Montreal on Nov. 4 will not speed up the city’s ban, but Mayor Valerie Plante said it demonstrates the need for eliminating the business.
He suggests a two-year deadline of the end of 2021 so employees have time to find new work and horses can be rehomed.
In 2016, Victoria Horse Alliance started a petition to ban the horse-drawn carriages pulling tourists through Victoria’s streets. Before the Nov. 8 council meeting, the petition had more than 38,000 signatures.
“I think the public does support a ban,” Reichert said. “People recognize this is a practice from a by-gone era that doesn’t belong on the city streets anymore. They recognize this is not how we treat animals anymore — we don’t exploit them for profit in the middle of traffic. It just doesn’t make sense in the way our city is being shaped.”