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Victoria BC Horse Carriage Ban
 By Winniefield Park   •   22nd Jun 2018   •   539 views   •   0 comments


The city of Victoria B.C. Canada is a picturesque city on Vancouver Island. There are many historic buildings, spacious parks, beautiful gardens and scenic ocean and mountain views. It’s beauty and mild climate make it a relaxing destination for west coast tourism. In the midst of this grandeur is a controversy similar to that roiling in many similar tourist spots. A popular way to take a leisurely tour of the city is by horse and carriage.

The rumblings about the carriage trade in Victoria have been ongoing for some time now. An incident last May has brought the business under harder scrutiny. Earlier this spring, two horses pulling a carriage fell on the street. A carriage with two horses was said to have been stopped on a street. A bus pulled up directly behind it, and when the carriage began to move forward, it rolled backward and bumped into the front of the bus, knocking the driver off balance and spooking the horses. One of the team pulling a trolley slipped on the pavement, falling and taking the other horse down with it. For five minutes the handlers and onlookers struggled to get the horses to their feet.

Video of the event went viral, prompting horse loves and activists to question the competency of the handlers, and the overall safety of the business for both horses and the public. The company that runs the carriages, Tally-Ho Tours has been in business, according to their website, since 1903 and has a nearly flawless record of safety for their horses and their clients. Every consideration is given to the health of the horse, including proper feeding program, farrier care and seven months off during the winter months when the carriages do not run. The company also has to adhere to standards of care and work set out by the SPCA and the City of Victoria.

But still, the criticism of the carriages is piling up. Some cite that foot and vehicular traffic within the city is getting more congested and presents more of a hazard for the horses. Others, as has been claimed in other cities like New York and Montreal say the traffic, air pollution and workload over paved surfaces is harmful to the horses. Since the video, carriage operators have been harrassed by activists.

Despite the care and training the company seems to provide their horses the local SPCA has recommended even more, and more restrictive regulations, while others are calling for a complete ban. One of the recommendations is that horses should only be hitched singly. This says Tally-Ho will make training their horses more difficult as having hitching greener horses with more experienced horses helps them learn the routes, accept the distractions of traffic and the public and how to pull the carriage. The recommendations also call for better handling of emergency situations. The company however, as a board member of the Carriage Operators of North America, already follows a very strict protocol as laid out in its 70 page policies and procedures manual.

The arguments on both sides of the issue are similar to those elsewhere. Will Victoria ban them altogether, restrict them to park areas or leave them as is. What will happen to these horses if they are unemployed? Will Victoria, like so many cities, bring an end to the carriage trade on their streets? Or will they operate under stricter regulations? The debate goes on.
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