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