The owner of a Victoria horse-carriage company is planning a rally outside city hall Thursday night in response to a Coun. Ben Isitt’s motion to ban the carriages by 2023.
Donna Friedlander, owner of Tally-Ho Carriage Tours, posted online asking residents to take action by writing letters to council, speaking at the meeting and gathering outside city hall with something to identify themselves as a supporter of the industry – such as a “homemade sign or stuffed horse.”
“Let’s make sure council members see the support before they start work that night…” said Friedlander.
She mentions that Victoria’s four-year strategic plan didn’t include any actions on horse-drawn carriages and that Coun. Ben Isitt is “pushing his personal animal rights ideologies onto the general public” and “onto the backs of two legal, ethical businesses employing over 70 staff and 55 draft horses.”
A petition to protect the industry, started by the Victoria Horse Protection Alliance in 2016, has seen a boost in numbers since the motion was put forward, and has garnered nearly 6,500 signatures – at least 3,000 of which came in since May 15.
Isitt’s motion follows years of contention around the industry, which sees large draft horses pulling carriages around the city – typically occupied with tourists.
A viral video from 2018 showed working horses struggling to get up after falling, after which the BC SPCA took a stance – asking the city for further policy development and to limit horse carriage routes.
Isitt reinvigorated the controversy with his motion earlier this month, in which he said the horse carriage industry is “ill suited to a 21st century city where we’re only seeing more and more traffic and congestion.”
On Thursday evening, council will further discuss the implications of phasing out the horse-drawn carriage industry and hear from a number of concerned residents. City of Victoria staff have been asked to report back to council on the work required to phase out the carriages at the next quarterly meeting Sept. 7.