Bye-bye caleches: Montreal to ban horse-drawn carriages in 2020
The city of Montreal is putting the owners of caleches on notice: the last day horses will be allowed to promenade through the streets is on Dec. 31, 2019.
"It's something we promised in our campaign very clearly," said City Councillor Craig Sauve. "There have been cases of horses being mistreated, horses dying while doing their caleche activities. There's issues there and it's a lot of resources we have to put in on the city's side, so we decided in the campaign that we're going to put an end to this industry."
Projet Montreal has long condemned the tourism-friendly trade, and before being elected Valerie Plante repeatedly said she wanted to replace caleches with electric vehicles.
However, caleche owner Luc Desparois said the city is killing his business based on a misconception about how the horses are treated.
"I love animals and I know that people do the same, because we're in it," he said. "We see people come up to the horse, they're happy to see the horse, they're happy to pet the horse. They're happy to see a horse in Montreal."
Desparois said he plans to meet with fellow caleche operators to discuss fighting the ban.
During the election campaign Plante said that seeing a horse lying on the ground was "revolting," after a video of a horse near Place D'Armes was shared on social media.
Caleche drivers have been carrying passengers and tourists through the city of Montreal for centuries, but in recent years the practice has drawn the ire of animal rights activists and lobby groups.
The SPCA and Projet Montreal have repeatedly called on the city of Montreal to end the practice, saying horses should not be forced to work in city streets where they had to deal with motor vehicles, or work in hot or cold temperatures.
Former Mayor Denis Coderre attempted to impose a moratorium on caleches in 2016, but that was blocked by a court injunction.
Following that the city of Montreal drew up new regulations for horses and their drivers to modernize the industry, along with requiring drivers to undergo customer service training.
In the meantime one of the main stables used by caleche drivers, Griffintown Horse Palace, is being rebuilt, thanks in part to financing from the city of Montreal.
The new Horse Palace will include a museum and larger accommodations for horses--although it's no longer know if any horses will use the stables once caleches are banned.
Critics say that banning caleches will not improve the life of horses. Instead, they expect the horses will be slaughtered, as some owners said they would do when the previous moratorium was announced.