Parking allocation contract for horse-drawn carriages up for renewal

CHEK

Victoria council will discuss a new contract allowing horse-drawn carriages to set up on Menzies Street this week as the previous contract has expired.

The carriage companies have been working with the city for years to reserve three parking stalls on the street so the sightseeing operators can solicit business, as well as load and unload passengers.

The last contract agreement made in 2018 expired this year, meaning it’s up for renewal.

“The parking stand renewal comes up every four years and it’s a pretty routine thing,” Donna Friedlander, owner of Tally-Ho Carriage Tours said. “It just goes forward to council and it usually goes forward without a hitch.”

The last time the contract was up for renewal, some members of the community came forward with concerns about the welfare of the horses.

Most of the concerns regarded the horses working too close to vehicle traffic and sometimes in extreme weather conditions.

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Some advocates were calling for the city to phase out the carriage industry.

That same call is happening across North America with cities like New York City and Dallas, Texas considering a ban. Montreal banned the practice in 2020.

Friedlander said the horses with her company are very loved and well taken care of.

“We are very lucky to live in an area of the world where our pollution levels and our traffic levels and our hills and our temperatures they’re all actually really well suited to what we do,” she explained.

“The horses are never working in extreme heat. On the days where it gets up to 36 degrees here, we don’t work. The horses stay here on the farm where they’ve got shade. The same in really extreme winter conditions.”

The elected council in 2018 decided not to move forward with a phase-out and renewed the parking contract.

A report from city staff is recommending the same process for this contact renewal.

The report recommends council approve another four-year renewal of the agreements with an increase in monthly fees to the companies from $1,114.29 per month to $1,340.24, bringing the fees in line with the current parking rates.

There are two other options for council in the report.

One is for council to ask staff to provide an alternate length and associated fee of the parking stand agreement.

The third option would have council direct staff to report back on the different options for the three parking stands such as returning them to vehicle parking or expanding them to other uses.

“If Council directs staff to conduct this analysis, it may consider a short-term parking stand agreement with horse drawn carriages in the meantime,” the report reads.

Animal advocate with Victoria Horse Alliance, Jordan Reichert, said he wants council to be very cautious with its approach to the discussion.

“At most, renew for a year and impose regulation on the industry that addresses the concerns and say ‘OK, if they can be held accountable within this framework maybe we will renew it a year at a time,'” Reichert said.

Friedlander explained the carriages are regulated by the City of Victoria and the horses over seen by a veterinary at all times, meaning they are cleared to work every year.

On Monday Mayor Marianne Alto told CHEK News she had not fully read the staff report yet and wasn’t able to make any comments.

The report will be presented to councillors at the committee of the whole on Thursday.

Mackenzie ReadMackenzie Read

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