Montreal imposes one-year ban on horse-drawn carriages to create new rules | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Montreal imposes one-year ban on horse-drawn carriages to create new rules

A horse-drawn carriage rides in Old Montreal Wednesday, May 18, 2016 in Montreal. Montreal mayor Denis Coderre announced there will be a one-year moratorium on the carriages following recent accidents. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
May 19, 2016 - 6:26 AM

MONTREAL - Horse-drawn carriages will disappear from the cobblestone streets of Old Montreal for 12 months while the city re-evaluates the rules governing the industry, Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre announced Wednesday.

Coderre said the city is placing a one-year moratorium on the popular tourist draw due to mounting criticism following a couple of well-publicized incidents that have put the animals' well-being into question.

"I was not at all satisfied with the way things are running at the moment," Coderre said. "The best option is to restart from zero and give ourselves all the necessary tools to ensure this is a source of pride and not a source of irritation."

He added that drivers and owners who have paid for 2016 permits will be reimbursed.

Last summer, Coderre ordered a veterinary report into the health of the animals after photographs circulated widely on social media showing a horse that slipped and fell on a metal plate.

The horse's owner, Luc Desparois, said at the time the animal wasn't injured, adding that veterinarians regularly check the health of the animals.

But in April, a horse-drawn carriage collided with a vehicle near Old Montreal and the incident reignited the debate over the ethics of the industry.

Animal-welfare advocates have long been calling for a ban on horse-drawn carriage tours, known in the city as caleche rides, saying it's dangerous and cruel to make horses work in Montreal's traffic-clogged streets.

Activists in Victoria, B.C. have also begun a petition to halt horse-drawn carriage rides in that city.

Alanna Devine of the Montreal SPCA said Coderre's announcement was a "good first step" and hopes it will lead to a permanent ban.

She said that in addition to welfare concerns, mixing flighty animals with cars is a recipe for disaster.

"It's dangerous for bystanders, it's dangerous for carriage drivers and it's dangerous for the passengers because accidents are likely to happen. They happen every single summer," she said.

Devine added the SPCA is willing to work with the owners of Montreal's caleche horses to find the animals new homes.

Mirella Colallilo, with the Anti-Caleche Defense Coalition, said she was "surprised and happy" to hear the horses won't have to work in the heat this summer.

"I think it would be best and it makes sense just to retire the horses and make this a part of the history of Montreal," she said. "We move on, we evolve, and things change."

But Desparois, the owner of one of the city's largest stables, blasted the mayor for putting dozens of people out of work at a moment's notice.

He said he could go bankrupt despite following all the city's rules, including submitting his horses to regular veterinary inspections.

Desparois said 85 per cent of his revenues are earned during the summer tourist season.

"I won't have the means to feed my horses," he said. "It's really an abuse of power on the city's part."

Coderre said the city will unveil a new plan for the industry next spring that will create "optimal conditions for the horses."

The temporary ban goes into effect on Tuesday.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2016
The Canadian Press

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