Carriage biz good fit for Sidney: owners

Brentwood Bay-based company looks forward to operating around town

Black Beauty Line owners Rebecca Spray and Robert Taylor stand with one of their horses on their property in Brentwood Bay. The two are looking forward to operating a carriage tour service in Sidney

Black Beauty Line owners Rebecca Spray and Robert Taylor stand with one of their horses on their property in Brentwood Bay. The two are looking forward to operating a carriage tour service in Sidney

In a large paddock in Brentwood Bay, a dozen or so draft horses graze, play and roam — that is until Black Beauty Line owners Rebecca Spray and Robert Taylor walk towards the fence.

As they approach, the horses are drawn to the two and all begin to saunter over to get greetings and pats from Spray and Taylor.

“They are big babies,” said Spray of the collection of horses they keep at the property. “We get a lot of them from places where they’ve spent their lives working doing logging or the fair circuits down in Washington state, so to come here is almost like a retirement community for some of them,” she smiled.

Spray and Taylor co-own Black Beauty Line which operates horse-drawn carriages in downtown Victoria. The company has been operating since 1979 and enjoys a busy tourist season over the summer. Now, they are hoping to expand their business into the heart of Sidney.

“We do enjoy a lot of support in Victoria, so we thought why don’t we try to expand this into Sidney. It’s such an up and coming town and it seems like it’s the destination for many businesses to open satellite locations, so we thought why not us too,” said Taylor of their decision to expand to Sidney.

So far the town has been supportive of Spray and Taylor’s application to operate in Sidney, and at their meeting on Aug. 13, council voted to make changes to an existing bylaw that will allow Black Beauty Line to start operating on a trial basis, possibly as soon as early this fall.

“We really appreciate people are excited about this,” said Spray. “I think we’re a great fit for Sidney, whether it’s going to be people who want rides for birthdays or weddings, it will be a great place to operate.”

No one has actively run carriages in Sidney for years. Council moved to change the wording of the bylaw because it was linked directly to Victoria Single Horse Drawn Carriage Tours Inc., the company that previously held the exclusive licence to operate in Sidney.

Among the changes to the bylaw, Spray and Taylor also noted that the town is opening up a larger area to which they can take the carriages.

“The previous bylaw had really limited space in terms of where we could operate, so by opening it up we’ll be able to go further than just Beacon Avenue and First Street,” Taylor said.

Spray added that Sidney’s layout, street construction and speed limits are also ideal for their operation.

“We drive every day in the streets of James Bay,” she said. “Those streets are so narrow, sometimes you get down there and with cars parked on both sides, if car comes the other way while you’re driving the carriage, it’s like, where do we go? The nice thing about Sidney is it’s already established as a 30 km/h community and the streets are nice and wide. It’s going to be perfect for us.”

Spray and Taylor have arranged with the Mary Winspear centre to use their rear parking lot for loading and unloading if they go ahead with a trial run over the fall and winter.