City set to in­voke new reg­u­la­tions on calèche trade

Own­ers fear rules will fur­ther hin­der in­dus­try where prof­its are al­ready mea­gre

Montreal Gazette - - CITY -

The city of Mon­treal in­tends to reg­u­late its con­tro­ver­sial calèche in­dus­try with a set of rules aimed at en­sur­ing the wel­fare of the horses, Mayor De­nis Coderre said Wed­nes­day.

“The sta­tus quo was un­ac­cept­able,” Coderre told a weekly meet­ing of the city’s ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee. “It’s very, very clear that be­fore any­thing else, the health of the an­i­mal, of the horse, is what’s im­por­tant.”

Coderre said his ad­min­is­tra­tion will ta­ble a by­law in city coun­cil to reg­u­late how calèche horses are used and cared for.

Calèche driv­ers and own­ers wait­ing for pas­sen­gers — who were few and far be­tween Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon out­side the Notre Dame Basil­ica in Old Mon­treal — said while they agreed with some mea­sures, like micro-chip­ping horses and reg­u­lar vet­eri­nary checks, most were un­nec­es­sary re­stric­tions that would hin­der an in­dus­try where prof­its are al­ready mea­gre. Most con­tentious was the de­ci­sion to lower the max­i­mum tem­per­a­ture at which horses can work to 28 C.

“It’s crazy how they’re go­ing to lower the tem­per­a­ture to 28 C. It used to be 32 C, and we never had a horse go down in the street,” said Gary Dowse, who has been driv­ing calèches since 1975. “Con­struc­tion work­ers stay out till 40 C.”

“The frus­trat­ing thing for us is we’re con­trolled by peo­ple who don’t know any­thing about horses. That’s our prob­lem. If they lower it to 28 it means we have to leave at 27, which means we won’t work all sum­mer, al­most.

As for the pro­posed dress code, Dowse said the polyester uni­forms are un­com­fort­able in the heat and ugly. The his­tory cour­ses they had to take were in­ac­cu­rate, he said.

An­other driver who asked not to be iden­ti­fied for fear of reper­cus­sions from the city said he bought his horse, cart and per­mit six years ago for $71,000, but now feared he would have trou­ble mak­ing a proper living.

“I have to make $17,000 (to cover ex­penses like feed and board­ing) be­fore I get to put any money in my pocket,” he said. The new re­stric­tions looked like a veiled at­tempt to drive calèche driv­ers out of busi­ness, he said.

The city would be bet­ter off adding im­prove­ments, like drink­ing stalls and shaded ar­eas for the horses and a barn that had been promised by the city but has not ma­te­ri­al­ized.

He added that as of 3 p.m. Wed­nes­day, he had had only one cus­tomer since 10:30 a.m. and Dowse had had none.

Among the pro­posed reg­u­la­tions:

Calèche own­ers must have the health of their horses cer­ti­fied by a vet­eri­nar­ian twice an­nu­ally.

Horses must be mi­crochipped to al­low the ex­tent and du­ra­tion of their ac­tiv­i­ties to be mon­i­tored.

Horses can­not be worked for more than nine hours, in­clud­ing the trav­el­ling time to and from their sta­bles, with oblig­a­tory 10-minute breaks be­tween trips.

Horses can­not be worked when the tem­per­a­ture reaches 28 C, and each calèche stand will be equipped with a ther­mome­ter that will is­sue a vis­ual alert when that max­i­mum tem­per­a­ture is im­mi­nent.

Calèches will be reg­u­larly in­spected by city of­fi­cials to en­sure their proper main­te­nance.

No one con­victed of vi­o­lat­ing an­i­mal cru­elty reg­u­la­tions will be per­mit­ted a calèche li­cence un­less the ap­pli­ca­tion is made five years af­ter the of­fence.

Calèche driv­ers will have a dress code. Also, driv­ers ex­pect­ing a per­mit must have, within the past five years, suc­cess­fully com­pleted a train­ing course on the city’s tourist at­trac­tions, cus­tomer ser­vice and the reg­u­la­tions of their pro­fes­sion in or­der to re­ceive their op­er­at­ing per­mit. They will also be obliged to re­port any in­ci­dent in­volv­ing their calèche or horse.

Tem­per­a­ture in sta­bles can­not ex­ceed 28 C in sum­mer. In win­ter, tem­per­a­ture must range be­tween 5 to 7 de­grees C.

The pro­posed reg­u­la­tions fol­low a clash last year be­tween Coderre and the lo­cal calèche in­dus­try sparked by sev­eral highly pub­li­cized ac­ci­dents in­volv­ing calèche horses. The mayor called for a year-long ban on calèches in or­der to ta­ble new reg­u­la­tions for the in­dus­try, but a week later a court chal­lenge quashed the mora­to­rium.

Coderre said Wed­nes­day he in­tends for the reg­u­la­tions to be­come law by this Au­gust.

ALLEN MCINNIS/FILES

“It’s very, very clear that be­fore any­thing else, the health of the an­i­mal, of the horse, is what’s im­por­tant,” Mayor De­nis Coderre said Wed­nes­day at a meet­ing of the city’s ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tee.

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