The City of Montreal announced in 2018 that horse-drawn carriages in the city would be phased out by 2020 after incidents involving the horses raised concerns about the animals’ welfare. Currently, there are about 50 horses and 47 drivers in the city, working in the industry that caters mainly to tourists.
Driver Henry Lesperance acts as a tour guide for tourists seeing Montreal by horse-drawn carriage in July, 1950. Photo: Library and Archives Canada
The city recently announced plans to work with the drivers by helping them find new employment, as many of them have valuable experience as tour guides. On April 10, 2019, the city also announced that it will offer to buy the animals for $1,000 each and give them to the SPCA to rehome. A spokesperson for the SPCA said those wishing to adopt would go through a “rigorous selection process.”
Coun. Sterling Downey explained that the voluntary program will give owners options other than sending their unemployed horses to slaughter. When asked if $1,000 was enough to compensate owners for the loss of their livelihoods, Downey stated the program was voluntary. He expects about 30 horses to be sold into the program. The rest of the owners are expected to set up shop in another city where the carriages are still permitted, or sell their horses privately, or keep them.
Main photo: A horse-drawn carriage with tourists in Old Montreal, Quebec, on July 31, 2013. Photo: Shutterstock/Bob Hilscher