Sidney council has received a trio of letters in opposition to seasonal horse-drawn carriage rides as the controversial subject has spilled over from Downtown Victoria (Black Press File).

Former resident accuses Sidney of promoting the exploitation of horses

Supporters of seasonal horse-drawn carriage rides say horses receive care with safety paramount

A familiar critic of horse-drawn carriage rides accused Sidney of “promoting the exploitation” of horses by allowing the rides in the community as part of holiday festivities.

Kari Sloane, a former Sidney resident who has been critical of the industry in Victoria, said in a letter to Sidney council that “promoting and hosting” horse-drawn carriage rides represents an “outdated practice that doesn’t align with Sidney’s values” in questioning the value of such rides in a compact community like Sidney.

“Promoting horse-drawn carriages is, in short, promoting the exploitation of horses,” she said. Animal activists including Sloane have asked the City of Victoria to ban horse-drawn carriage rides citing a number of issues including traffic and heat exhaustion on the part of the animals. Officials with BCSPCA are currently reviewing rules around horse-drawn carriage rides in the City of Victoria after the organization initially called for a ban.

RELATED: Victoria considers limiting where horse-drawn carriages can go

RELATED: BC SPCA recommends ban of horse-drawn carriages from downtown Victoria streets

Sidney council also received letters from Natasha Illi and Jennifer Forberg, striking a similar note to Sloane’s complaint. Illi said horses do not belong on city streets, while Forberg called the practice “archaic” and “embarrassing” in referring to Victoria. “This is 2019, and we should be looking to be progressive, and stop exploiting animals.”

The letters themselves appear in the public document for Sidney’s regular council meeting Monday night. This said, these complaints might represent the definition of the horse having left the barn, at least when it comes to stopping the rides this year.

Victoria Carriage Tours offered free rides Saturday as part of the Sidney Merchants’ Open House. Interested parties can also book rides through downtown Sidney on Saturdays and Sundays between Dec. 1 and 23 from noon to 4 p.m.

Sidney, meanwhile, rejects Sloane’s argument. “While staff appreciate the concerns that you raise, we do not believe that the horses associated with the business Victoria Carriage Tours are, in any way being exploited or abused,” said Randy Humble, chief administrative officer in responding to Sloane. Humble described Victoria Carriage Tours as an “established commercial horse-carriage operator” with “considerable experience in operating horse-drawn carriages in an urban environment where safety is paramount.” Humble said staff understand that veterinarians regularly check the horses to ensure their health and well-being.

He also rejected comparisons between horse-drawn carriages operating in Victoria and Sidney in noting that Sidney has less traffic, slower speed limits and a “much smaller” downtown.

“Finally, because this will only be a seasonal operation over the Christmas holidays, excessively high temperatures will not be an issue for the horses,” he said.

Morgan Shaw, executive director and event liaison/facilitator with the Sidney Business Improvement Area Society, said carriage rides have been running in Sidney during the Christmas season “for four years now with great success,” adding her organization works closely with the municipality to ensure Sidney is festive and welcoming during the Christmas season for residents and visitors alike.

“Animal care and safety, specifically regarding horse drawn carriage tours in our downtown area, remains of utmost importance to the Sidney BIA Board,” she said. “The Sidney BIA continues to work closely with Victoria Carriage Tours to ensure all regulations are met and exceeded for their annual visit to our community.”

The company said in a press release that its “operations incorporate a well-balanced strategy developing the wellbeing of our horses” in quoting a general BCSPCA stance on animal welfare, which states that animals “experience good welfare when they are able to experience positive feelings arising from pleasurable activities and the fulfillment of behavioural needs, and when they are free from poor physical health and negative feelings” like pain, discomfort, hunger, thirst, fear and frustration.

“Our carriage operations, in conjunction with our business as a whole, meet and exceed the criteria listed above,” it reads.

Victoria Carriage Tours said in its release that its horses live in a herd environment on a Brentwood Bay farm.


Like us on Facebook and follow @wolfgang_depner

wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Police are looking to identify suspects in an Oct. 10 report of mischief in at a construction site in the 2800-block of Peatt Road in Langford. (West Shore RCMP handout)
West Shore RCMP seeks suspects after trio spray paints Langford construction site

Three individuals caught on camera hopping a fence on Peatt Road

Norm Scott, president of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch no. 91 in Lanford, pins the first poppy to launch the annual Poppy Campaign on George Baker, who served with the Royal Canadian Air Force from 1953 to 1989. Baker said it was an honour to be chosen for something so significant for veterans everywhere. (Rick Stiebel/News Staff)
Poppy campaign launches in Langford with pinning ceremony

The poppy campaign is officially underway with the first of the pins… Continue reading

A sentencing hearing began for Joel Conway who was convicted of break and enter and sexual assault last year. (Kendra Crighton/News Staff)
Saanich man sentenced to three years in prison for breaking into woman’s home and sexually assaulting her

Crown is asking Joel Conway be sentenced to four years for both charges, to be served concurrent

Physical distancing signs are a common sight in B.C. stores and businesses. THE CANADIAN PRESS
272 more COVID-19 cases for B.C., outbreak at oil sands project

Three new health care outbreaks, three declared over

President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Allentown, Pa. on Oct. 26. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
POLL: How closely are you following the U.S. presidential election?

It may feel like it’s been going on forever but the U.S.… Continue reading

This house at 414 Royal Ave. became notorious for its residents’ and visitors’ penchant for attracting police. It was also the site of a gruesome torture in August 2018. It was demolished in 2019. KTW
6-year sentence for Kamloops man who helped carve ‘rat’ into flesh of fellow gang member

Ricky Dennis was one of three men involved in the August 2018 attack

Cpl. Nathan Berze, media officer for the Mission RCMP, giving an update on the investigation at 11:30 a.m., Oct. 30. Patrick Penner photo.
VIDEO: Prisoner convicted of first-degree murder still at large from Mission Institution

When 10 p.m. count was conducted, staff discovered Roderick Muchikekwanape had disappeared

Among the pumpkin carvings created this year by Rick Chong of Abbotsford is this tribute to fallen officer Cont. Allan Young.
Abbotsford pumpkin carver’s creations include fallen police officer

Rick Chong carves and displays 30 pumpkins every year

An online fundraising campaign in support of the six-year-old boy, Edgar Colby, who was hit by a car on Range Road Oct. 25 has raised more than $62,000 in a day. (Submitted)
$62K raised in 1 day for boy in coma at BC Children’s after being hit by vehicle in Yukon

The boy’s aunt says the family is “very grateful” for the support they’ve received from the community

Police service dog Herc helped RCMP locate and arrest suspects in the Ladysmith area on Oct. 23, 2020, related to a stolen vehicle. (Submitted)
RCMP nab prolific property offender in Ladysmith with assist from police dog Herc

Police attempted to stop the vehicle but it fled from the area towards Chemainus.

Health care employees take extensive precautions when working with people infected or suspected of having COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
WorkSafeBC disallows majority of COVID-19 job injury claims

Health care, social services employees filing the most claims

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole rises during Question Period in the House of Commons in Ottawa on Wednesday October 28, 2020. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)
Conversion therapy ban gets approval in principle, exposes Conservative divisions

Erin O’Toole himself voted in favour of the bill, as did most Conservative MPs

Most Read