Victoria council has delayed a vote on a controversial motion to ask city staff to look at the implications of phasing out horse-drawn carriages by 2023.
Instead, councillors approved an amendment to refer the matter back to Committee of the Whole and seek more guidance from the BC SPCA.
Earlier, the councillor who’d put forth the proposal tried to water it down after admitting he didn’t have the support of the majority of council.
“I believe the status quo is unacceptable,” Ben Isitt told his council colleagues in suggesting that they instead consider barring the carriages from busy downtown streets by 2020.
That amendment was defeated.
“We have to make hard decisions about what are our priorities,” said councillor Laurel Collins.
“I’m worried about motions that are thrown together.”
So now the matter is on hold until a delegation from the BC SPCA can be questioned by council about its views on the future of the industry.
The horse trading by council came after dozens of speakers delivered passionate pleas for and against the horse-drawn carriage industry to Council in on Thursday night.
“As a local resident who has to watch these horses day-in and day-out in my neighbourhood,” said James Bay resident Taylor Zavitz.
“I feel ashamed to be part of city that sees this industry as charming, a romanticized piece of what Victoria is supposedly about.”
“I’m shocked that we’re here tonight, there is absolutely no reason this has come forward to Council’s agenda,” said Donna Friedlander of Tally-Ho Carriage Tours.
“It was less than nine months ago that we provided extensive operation about this industry and how we operate, nothing has changed.”
Earlier, hundreds of supporters rallied in front of City Hall to denounced what they see as another attack on the industry that employs 70 staff in Victoria.
Concerns have been raised by the B.C. SPCA and others about the conditions horses work under.
Carriage companies have always maintained the industry is safe and said they are willing to take this fight to court.