Earlier this month, Victoria, B.C. Councillor Ben Isitt reinitiated the call for a ban of horse-drawn carriages on city streets.

For the operators of Victoria’s two horse-drawn carriage companies, Tally-Ho Carriage Tours and Victoria Carriage Tours, this came as an unwelcome surprise. Just last August, the city voted to extend their carriage stand leases for five years.

Together, Tally-Ho Carriage Tours and Victoria Carriage Tours have 70 human and 55 equine employees, and say they operate mainly in lower traffic areas, such as the James Bay neighbourhood and Beacon Hill Park.

Tally-Ho owner Donna Friedlander, who speaks publicly on behalf of both companies, says they have worked with the city and BC SPCA regarding every safety precaution and recommendation they have put forth. She added that while many opponents to the industry have conceded that the horses are well-cared for, some still don’t believe they belong in traffic – for safety reasons and the convenience of motorists.

Isitt was calling for an immediate vote on the matter, in the hopes of phasing the industry out by 2023. However, swift backlash from the community – including a protest in front of city hall last Thursday, as councillors debated the issue – has put the issue on hold once again.

Isitt attempted an amendment requesting that council limit operators to single-horse carriages on streets outside the downtown by 2020, but this also failed. He is steadfast in the belief that greater regulation is needed in the industry, and has vowed to bring the issue back to the table as soon as he knows he has the support on council to back the motion.