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Vancouver Humane Society says horse carriage rides in Stanley Park are unsafe

Vancouver – The Vancouver Humane Society (VHS) is commenting on the controversy over the traffic problem caused in Stanley Park by horse-drawn carriages. The society says the carriages not only create a risk to public safety but also compromise the horses’ welfare.

This week, the operator of the carriage horse rides was quoted in media stating that conducting rides under a new traffic configuration in the park was an “accident waiting to happen.” 

But VHS points out that a near-disastrous incident involving a runaway carriage took place in 2016, when spooked horses left the roadway and came close to falling off the seawall.

“The horse carriages have always been an accident waiting to happen, whatever the traffic arrangement in the park,” said VHS spokesperson Peter Fricker. “Now is the opportunity for the City to listen to local residents and prioritize safety, ensuring the increase in cycle traffic is adequately accommodated.”

Fricker said the current temporary arrangement, which provides one lane for motorists and another for cyclists might be a reasonable compromise but putting horse carriages in the mix appears unworkable. “If the new traffic pattern gives much-needed access to the park to both motorists and cyclists, it would be a shame to scrap it because of one business putting public and animal safety at risk unnecessarily.”

VHS opposes carriage horse rides in the city because of the dangers of the horses’ close proximity to traffic, the exposure to noise and pollution and long hours standing in all weather conditions.

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Vancouver Humane Joins Call For A Ban On Horse Carriages in Victoria

It was a May 2018 incident involving Victoria’s horse-drawn carriages that seemed to revive the debate over the controversial practice and has ultimately brought the issue before Victoria City Council.

The traffic incident, in which a horse carriage was bumped by a bus, led to two trolley horses slipping and falling onto the street. Video of the incident, shared by Victoria Horse Alliance, showed the animals struggling to get up for over five minutes, with members of the public attempting to intervene and inadvertently putting themselves at risk of injury. Eventually, the horses’ harnesses were removed and they were able to regain their footing.

The Ogden Point incident made media headlines and led to questions about whether horse-drawn carriages and trolleys should continue to be permitted in increasingly busy and traffic-congested urban environments.

Earlier this year, the debate made its way to Victoria City Council, as Councillor Ben Isitt proposed banning horse carriages by 2023. Council opted to seek further input from the BC SPCA before deciding on any changes to the practice.

As an organization that has advocated for ending the operation of horse-drawn carriages in Vancouver, in particular in Stanley Park and more recently at holiday events in the city, Vancouver Humane has also submitted a letter to Victoria City Council for their consideration. You can read our full letter here.

Vancouver Humane’s primary concerns are for the welfare of the horses, who are subjected to pulling carriages and trollies in urban environments that pose serious safety risks to both the animals and the public. The regular exposure to traffic, noise and pollution; the long hours of standing and walking on hard surfaces; and the hard labour under sometimes extreme weather conditions are not consistent with a horse guardian’s responsibility to provide high-quality, long-term care for horses.

While some suggest increased regulation as a solution, the urban conditions create inherent welfare and public safety issues which cannot be adequately addressed through regulation of the industry.

Vancouver Humane is strongly encouraging Victoria City Council to follow Montreal’s progressive lead in phasing out and banning horse carriages, as well as supporting the industry and workers in transitioning to alternative employment, such as guided bicycle, pedicab or walking tours.

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Please urge Vancouver City Council to ban horse-drawn carriages

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VHS has written to Vancouver’s mayor and council, calling for an end to horse-drawn carriage rides in the city following this week’s near-disaster in Stanley Park.

Monday’s incident, in which frightened horses bolted on to the seawall pulling a carriage full of passengers, was a serious threat to both public and animal safety.  The runaway carriage hit a park bench, throwing the driver and leaving panicked passengers to jump off.  The horses were reportedly spooked by a car horn.

Anyone wishing to express their concerns to the mayor and council can email them. Our letter to the City and our position statement on carriage horses explain the reasons why these rides should be stopped.

Thank you for your support.

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VHS calls for end to horse-drawn carriages in Stanley Park

 

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Near disaster in park as frightened horses bolt 

VHS today called for an end to horse-drawn carriage rides in Stanley Park after television news broadcast disturbing video of a near disaster in the park today.

The video shows frightened horses bolting from their route in the park with a carriage full of panicking passengers, hitting a park bench and racing along the edge of the seawall before they were finally brought under control.  The driver was reportedly thrown from the carriage and the footage shows terrified passengers jumping and falling on to the pavement.

VHS has issued a news release calling for a ban on carriage horses in the park. The society has always opposed carriage horse rides in urban areas because of the dangers of the horses’ close proximity to traffic, the exposure to noise and pollution and long hours standing in all weather conditions.

For more information see our full position statement on horse-drawn carriages.