Montreal’s mayor announces news rules for horse drawn carriages

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.
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.

MONTREAL, Canada — The horse drawn carriage (calèche) business in Montreal has a checkered history something it has in common with every other city who operates this type of business.

Last month, Montreal’s Mayor Coderre imposed a one year ban in order to assess the situation and give them time to unveil a new plan for the industry next spring that will create “optimal conditions for the horses” only to have it reversed by a Quebec Superior Court justice.

Now Coderre is prepared to table (introduce) a set of guidelines on how the horse drawn carriage business can ply its trade.

CTV reports:

Montreal will table new regulations to protect the welfare of horses working in the city’s controversial horse-drawn carriage industry, Mayor Denis Coderre announced Wednesday.

Coderre said the rules will include limits on how long the horses can work and in what temperatures.

“I think the horse is part of our history, part of our heritage, and we have to make sure that we protect, first and foremost, the horses,” he told reporters.

Last year, Coderre tried to place a one-year moratorium on the popular tourist draw after several accidents involving caleche horses were caught on camera.

That decision was later reversed after a Quebec Superior Court justice ruled the carriages should be allowed to continue operating.

In an executive committee meeting earlier Wednesday, Coderre said the new rules would limit the horses’ working days to nine hours and prevent them from working at temperatures over 28 C. They will also have to be seen by a veterinarian at least twice a year.

The bylaw will be tabled Monday and is expected to be adopted in August.

In the long term, Coderre said the city would consider building new stables for the horses.

Coderre’s announcement was quickly panned by some animal-welfare advocates, who have been calling for a total ban on the carriage rides.

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No matter how well intentioned, Coderre’s regulations are welfarist and will not improve the lives of the horses in any substantial way. Most importantly of all, however, they will do nothing to remove the threat of accident resulting in injury and death.

Just last month CBC News reported on two carriage horse accidents in a single day within an hour of each other:

Witnesses say the horse pulling the second carriage tripped and fell on the ground. (Marie-Maude Pontbriand/Radio-Canada)
Witnesses say the horse pulling the second carriage tripped and fell on the ground. (Marie-Maude Pontbriand/Radio-Canada)

Two calèches were involved in two separate accidents in Quebec City Saturday afternoon, near the Château Frontenac.

In the first case, the driver appeared to have lost control of his horse, according to a spokesperson from the Quebec City police.

The driver was sent to hospital with minor injuries to her legs.

In the second incident, witnesses told Radio-Canada, CBC’s French-language service, that the horse pulling the second carriage tripped and fell on the ground.

The family riding in the carriage at the time was unharmed.

Neither horse was injured, but they were given Sunday off to recover from the incidents.

Wow. A whole Sunday off.

But how do you regulate accidents from happening? You cannot. It is proven that horse drawn carriages must be banned from operating in high traffic areas because horses spook and run causing mayhem potentially injuring themselves and others, possibly even death.

* A calèche is a two-wheeled one-horse vehicle with a seat for the driver on the splashboard.

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