News

City could review horse-drawn carriage use in downtown Victoria

A Black Beauty Line carriage rolls along Wharf Street, followed slowly by a B.C. Transit bus. The presence of the carriages downtown could be revisited, in the wake of an incident last week in which a carriage horse allegedly grazed by a tour bus got spooked, throwing two people out of the buggy and carrying a third on a wild ride. - Daniel Palmer/News staff
A Black Beauty Line carriage rolls along Wharf Street, followed slowly by a B.C. Transit bus. The presence of the carriages downtown could be revisited, in the wake of an incident last week in which a carriage horse allegedly grazed by a tour bus got spooked, throwing two people out of the buggy and carrying a third on a wild ride.
— image credit: Daniel Palmer/News staff

After an out-of-control horse-drawn carriage charged through downtown Victoria last week, one city councillor is looking into the incident to determine whether further restrictions should be put on the industry.

"I'll be following up … to see whether we need to (further) regulate what streets (the carriages) are on, or whether we should continue having them," Coun. Charlayne Thornton-Joe said. "But until I know all the facts, I can't make any concrete decisions on what the next steps are."

Dave Shishkoff advocates for the outright ban of horse-drawn carriages in Victoria through his organization Friends of Animals. He said council would only be following past policies by implementing a ban.

"The city has banned rodeos and circus acts with animals, so I don't see why banning … a form of entertainment that exploits horses couldn't happen," he said.

Kate Clark, manager of Tally Ho Carriage Tours, said her drivers will not be conducting half-hour tours of downtown until the Victoria police investigation is concluded.

"After this incident, it appears there is not enough room for horse carriages and buses to be downtown," she said.

"We're trying to re-examine our routes at this point in time."

Clark said commercial trucks on Government Street can also create problems for the horses.

The incident occurred on Aug. 1 around 2:15 p.m., when police say a Clydesdale was clipped by a tour bus on Fisgard Street in Chinatown.

The horse then bucked, losing its driver and one passenger, before taking the remaining passenger on a frenzied ride along the waterfront.

"All I heard was the scream of the woman and then we saw the carriage barrel by," said Nick Chambers, who works at Bean Around the World at 533 Fisgard St. "She was in the back seat just holding on for dear life."

The woman, said to be in her 50s, was whisked down Store and Wharf streets and eventually jumped from the carriage near Fort Street. Police say no one sustained serious injuries.

Eric Backhouse was biking northbound on Wharf Street when the horse galloped past. He took quick action, chasing the steed and coaxing it to a halt.

"I just looked it in the eye, held up my hand and said, 'Woah, woah,' ... and it stopped," he said.

Clark confirmed the horse, Sarge, had been clipped on its shoulder by a tour bus but that it was uninjured.

VicPD Spokesman Mike Tucker said collision investigators will likely conclude the file and the matter will be dealt with through insurance companies.

dpalmer@vicnews.com

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