Montreal caleche drivers to keep working after moratorium lifted - InfoNews

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Montreal caleche drivers to keep working after moratorium lifted

A caleche crosses Old Montreal on its way to a demonstration in front of City Hall, Tuesday, May 24, 2016 in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
May 25, 2016 - 2:51 PM

MONTREAL - Tourists in Montreal this summer will still have the option of seeing the sights from a horse-drawn carriage after all.

Mayor Denis Coderre announced Wednesday he would backtrack on his decision last week to impose a year-long moratorium on the popular caleches, which are a staple in Old Montreal.

His reversal came after a Quebec Superior Court justice granted the drivers a temporary injunction that would have allowed them to continue working at least until June 3.

"I will comply with what the judge said, but there will be a new policy for the horses," Coderre told reporters, adding he was cancelling the moratorium so drivers would not request a permanent injunction to keep working.

Caleche drivers were ecstatic with the legal decision.

"He made us go through hell," Luc Desparois said of Coderre.

"He made us, our families, and our friends go through all these emotions. I think even the horses could feel it. It was a serious issue and I'm very happy with today's decision."

The ban kicked in this week and prompted drivers to protest with their carriages outside city hall on Tuesday.

Now that the moratorium has been lifted, drivers will no longer have to seek a permanent injunction once the temporary injunction expires June 3.

When Coderre first announced he would revoke 24 permits last week, he said the city would use the year to create new guidelines for the popular tourist draw.

On Wednesday, Coderre said the city would still proceed with new regulations and study the horses, their stables and public safety. He added the city would keep a close eye on the drivers and the horses over the summer months and that officials wouldn't hesitate to give out fines.

"There are still tonnes of problems," he said.

Last summer, Coderre ordered a veterinary report into the health of the animals after photographs made the rounds on social media showing a horse that had slipped and fallen on a metal plate.

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

In April, a horse-drawn carriage collided with a vehicle near Old Montreal and the incident reignited the debate.

Animal-welfare advocates have long been calling for a ban on caleche tours, saying they are dangerous and that it is cruel to make horses work in Montreal's traffic-clogged streets.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2016
The Canadian Press

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