Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Victoria Considers Tighter Reins on Horse-Drawn Carriage Tours, Pet Sales

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Victoria Considers Tighter Reins on Horse-Drawn Carriage Tours, Pet Sales

Article excerpt

Victoria mulls tight reins on horse tours

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Victoria councillors are considering tightening city regulations governing horse-drawn carriage tours, but that's not enough for at least one council member who says it's time to put the downtown rides out to pasture.

Councillors are set to debate wholesale changes to the animal control bylaw Thursday to consider the health and identification of carriage horses and to prohibit pet store sales of dogs, puppies, cats, kittens and rabbits.

The debate last week did not resolve issues that were raised on carriage horses.

Coun. Ben Isitt said council is considering incremental changes to prolong a business that should be phased out of the city.

"This is just scratching the surface," he told last week's meeting. "If we're serious about animal welfare these animals need to be in rural areas, on farms, not working in a dense urban environment under these conditions."

The City of Montreal adopted new rules last year to protect the welfare of horses working in the city's caleche industry. Former mayor Denis Coderre also tried to place a one-year moratorium on the popular tourist draw in 2016 after several accidents involving the horses were caught on camera, but that decision was later reversed after a judge ruled the carriages should be allowed to continue operating.

Horse-drawn carriage tours of Victoria's scenic Inner Harbour and bucolic Beacon Hill Park are popular tourism attractions, but they have often been dogged by animal rights proponents who say the trips put stress and hardship on the horses.

Coun. Charlayne Thornton-Joe said she did not want to engage in a debate at this time about the future of the carriage horse industry.

She told council last week her proposed bylaw amendments seek to protect the horses and their passengers.

"My goal is to make sure the health of the horse and the safety of the passengers are being considered," Thornton-Joe said. …

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