Montreal to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages in 2020

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31 December, 2019

The city of Montreal, Canada is set to ban horse-drawn vehicles on January 1. The ban was approved after pressure from animal rights activists who say the horses are being mistreated.

The horse-drawn vehicles, known as carriages, have long been a popular way for Montreal visitors to see the city.

On a recent day in the center of Montreal's Old Port area, six horses and carriages were lined up in front of Notre-Dame cathedral, the French news agency AFP reported.

Nathalie Matte is a carriage operator in the city. She told AFP that many people are clearly drawn to the beauty of the horses. "You can pet him if you wish," she tells visitors looking at her animal.

Mujtaba Ali was visiting Montreal while traveling through Canada. "It's a unique way to see the city rather than just taking the bus or the subway," he said.

Carriage business owner Luc Desparois said the vehicles had become an important part of Montreal's culture over the years. "They have been around since Montreal started," he told AFP.

After being pressured by animal rights groups for years, Montreal's city council ordered a ban on the horse-drawn carriages in 2018. The ban is set to take effect on January 1.

The city government had previously banned horses from the road when summer temperatures rose in an effort to satisfy the activists. But the groups kept pushing for a total ban.

A turning point happened in 2018 when a horse died on the street while pulling a carriage. The incident caused Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante to denounce the industry and support the removal of horse-drawn carriages from the city.

The ban is expected to put about 50 carriage operators and their horses out of work.

Jean-François Parenteau is a spokesman for the city of Montreal. "It is a tradition that has long been appreciated. But today, I think it is time to move on," he told AFP. He added that it is important for the city to "care about animals."

His comments were welcomed by Galahad, an association that seeks to protect horses and had campaigned for the ban. The organization's founder, Chamie Angie Cadorette, said the horses faced difficult working conditions.

"It is not just an hour a day. It is eight hours a day to go up and down the roads in traffic," she said. She accused horse carriage owners of mistreating their animals.

"They say (the animals) are being abused. Prove it," said carriage business operator Luc Desparois. His company, which has 15 horses and employs 15 carriage drivers, recently led a legal battle against the ban. But he lost in court.

In April, the city announced a plan aimed at preventing unemployed horses from ending up in slaughterhouses. The city offered to pay $760 for each donated horse. As of December 16, only one request to join the program had been made.

Desparois said he considered the offer a "total insult."

"You could offer me $ 10,000 tomorrow morning and I won't sell it to you," he said. He added that after 34 years in the business, his animals meant a lot more to him than money.

I'm Bryan Lynn.

Agence France-Presse reported on this story. Bryan Lynn adapted the report for VOA Learning English. Hai Do was the editor.

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Words in This Story

cathedral n. the largest and most important church in a particular area

pet v. touch an animal

unique adj. different from most other things

appreciate v. enjoy and recognize the full worth of something

slaughterhouse n. a place where animals are killed for meat