The century-old tradition of horse-drawn carriages is one step closer to being phased off Victoria streets, as the motion put forward last week by Councillor Ben Isitt was voted to the next step in the process.
“All of those in favor of sending this forward to get staff to do some work and bring back the implications before the next quarterly update. Three are opposed, 5 are in favor, so that carries,” said Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps in a committee of the whole meeting on Thursday.
In a 5-3 vote, city staffers will analyze the amount of work and money it would take to phasing out horse-drawn carriage industry by 2023.
The plan would mean amending the 2019-2022 Strategic Plan
Mayor Lisa Helps wasn’t in agreement with diverting resources away from issues council had already decided were priorities.
“We are in a climate emergency, we’re not in a horse emergency,” said Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps.
Councillor Charalyne Thorton-Joe, who meets with the B.C. SPCA twice a year, said their main concern is for puppy mill dogs sold in pet stores, and the treatment of dairy cows and sled dogs.
City staff will consult with the B.C. SPCA to see if they have any animal welfare regulations they’d like to add to the horse-drawn carriage industry before the potential phase-out date of 2023.
But currently, the B.C. SPCA says they’re fine with the horses working as long as they’re kept safe.
“Our primary focus is the welfare of the horses,” said Erika Paul, an animal protection officer with BC SPCA.
“And if the horses are working that there’s little to no risk of injury for them while they’re doing their jobs.”
Isitt agreed council is facing much bigger priorities but argues the horse carriage ban is a housekeeping matter that’s long overdue.
The motion will be debated on September 7, 2019.