Victoria councillor Ben Isitt has officially entered the controversial conversation about the city’s horse-drawn carriages into council records.
At the next city council meeting this Thursday, Isitt has proposed to discuss the resource implications of phasing out commercial horse-drawn carriages from Victoria’s streets by 2023.
Instead he’d like to encourage a collaboration between the city and horse-drawn carriage industry to explore the implementation of “e-carriages” as a way to maintain tourism revenue.
Isitt argues that ongoing opportunities for employment and economic development could be generated through “innovative deployment of electric-powered vehicles for hire”.
This is not the first time Isitt has expressed his aversion to the horse-drawn carriage industry in Victoria.
“If we are serious about animal welfare, these animals need to be in rural areas on farms, not working in the dense urban environment under these conditions,” Isitt said at a council meeting.
“I don’t think commercial horse-drawn carriage operations are an appropriate use of animals for commercial purposes and essentially for entertainment.”
The issue arose during a debate over identification numbers being used for horses pulling carriages.
Though Isitt voiced his concerns, he did not actually propose a motion or attempt to alter the bylaw at the time – a move he is making this Thursday.
History of Controversy
The Victoria Horse Alliance has advocated for an end to horse-drawn carriages in the city for years. In fact, a petition to ban the use of horses in the city that they started in 2016 has since garnered over 38,000 signatures.
But Donna Friedlander, the Tally-ho Carriage Tours in Victoria, has consistently denied that the horses are mistreated.
“When it comes to animal welfare, I think we do an amazing job,” Friedlander told CBC News.
Tally-ho reportedly utilizes a team of veterinarians, farriers, and chiropractors to care for the animals.
“The horses that we use are all draft horses or heavy horses. They’ve been bred for over 300 years to do exactly this kind of work,” Friedlander added.