Victoria horse-drawn carriage debate draws hundreds of protesters
The group fighting to save Victoria's century-old horse-drawn carriage industry may have scored a crucial victory at a Thursday night council meeting.
The motion, put forward by Coun. Ben Isitt earlier this month, called horse-drawn carriages an "outmoded form of transportation in our 21st-century city" and suggested they be replaced by electronic carriages.
The proposal sparked controversy among industry advocates, and outside of city hall Thursday, hundreds of people turned up to voice their support before the meeting.
"These animals are well cared for," said one protester. "They're stabled near my home in Central Saanich. I think it's ludicrous that they're trying to get rid of them."
After a steady stream of passionate speakers that carried on for hours, it became clear that there was a lack of support on city council to hold a vote on the issue.
"I don't think there are the votes on council to close down the industry," said Coun. Geoff Young. "I think that's the bottom line."
CFAX 1070's Adam Stirling watched the event in real-time, calling it "lightning in a bottle."
"You can't just manufacture that," the radio host said Friday. "It coalesces on its own naturally in grassroots movements, and it is a very powerful thing."
As the lengthy and at-times confusing meeting wrapped up, council ultimately decided to hold off doing anything about the horses until it received more advice from the BC SPCA.
Last year, the BC SPCA wrote a letter to city council recommending a "solutions-based approach" that would protect horses from vehicle traffic and support public safety.
Companies like Tally-Ho and Victoria Carriage Tours say they have been heeding that advice, including limited horse-drawn vehicles to one horse per carriage.
Those companies have threatened legal action if the city moves ahead with the proposal to do away with the horse-drawn carriage industry.