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Canada Supporters of Victoria’s horse-drawn carriage industry plan rally

Supporters of Victoria’s horse-drawn carriages plan a rally on Thursday after learning city councillors have asked staff to examine phasing out the industry.

A council decision last week asked staff to consider the effect of phasing out horse-drawn carriage businesses by 2023.

Donna Friedlander, spokeswoman for the industry and also the owner-operator of Tally-Ho Carriage Tours, says the council request is shocking.

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She says the city reached a renewed, five-year agreement with carriage companies in 2018 and her business responded by investing in a new barn for its animals, while Victoria Carriage Tours purchased new horses.

Friedlander says the industry brings considerable tourism revenue to the region because, for many visitors, a horse-drawn ride through Victoria’s streets is on their bucket list.

The rally is set for 5:30 p.m., Thursday, outside city hall.

Coun. Ben Isitt has floated the idea of electric carriages but Friedlander says tourists choose carriage rides specifically because of the horses.

“It’s a bucket list item for people, of things to do. And we really want to make sure that, you know, we’re not a transportation company,” she says.

“We’re not getting people from Point A to Point B, we’re giving people experiences with these horses, and that’s really what people are looking for.”

Electric carriages cost about $35,000 each, Friedlander says, and she believes there is little demand for them, adding she will shut down her company if Victoria tries to enforce how she runs it.

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“Nobody’s in this business because we want to drive a carriage. We’re in this business because we love horses,” she says.

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