Horse-drawn carriage in downtown Victoria (Jodi Mucha)

After a years-long discussion on banning horse-drawn carriages in Victoria, City Council has opted out of any more discussion on the debate.

The tourist-draw will remain in the city following a council meeting on February 27th, where a motion was put forward by Coun. Jeremy Loveday, who stated “it’s time to move on.”

Councillors did discuss preparing bylaw amendments during their quarterly update, specifically a maximum temperature of 28 degrees, banning travel down Oswego and Superior streets, and posting more signage along horse carriage routes.

Despite the suggestions, council did not decide to move forward with the recommendations, and will do nothing at this time.

The motion passed six-to-two, with Ben Isitt and Sharmarke Dubow being the only ones who opposed.

The debate over whether horse-drawn carriages should be banned from city streets for the sake of animal safety has been a long-standing one, with animal activists vocal on the apparent instances of animal cruelty. Equestrians argued that the horses are maintained with great care scrutiny, and enjoy being around people.

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In a letter from November 2019, BC SPCA showed support for the horse-drawn carriages, stating that they deemed the industry acceptable.

This was a stark difference from a previous letter in June 2018 from the animal advocacy group, which requested a ban of horse-drawn carriages from downtown streets.

 “There’s no question we’re elated that Council decided to put this potential ban off to the side,” said Victoria Carriage Tours General Manager Tom Walker. “It allows an iconic Victoria tourism activity to continue, it saves the jobs of those drivers – most of them young women – who rely on our industry to help them meet their tuition and other costs.

“And above all else, it saves our horses from boredom, frustration or worse.”