Central Saanich is saddling up a historic form of transportation to ride into its post-COVID-19 future.
Council Monday unanimously approved a notice of motion from Coun. Niall Paltiel asking staff to look into a permanent ‘hitching post’ and horse carriage lease area within Saanichton Village.
Paltiel said the proposal is part and parcel of the municipality working with key local businesses to help attract visitors as the municipality recovers from the economic effects of the pandemic.
“Ultimately, my sincere goal is that we work with staff, roll up our sleeves and get something in place for the summer months,” he said.
Paltiel said a site has not yet emerged, adding it could be a publicly or privately owned location. He said earlier that he wants to make sure that local businesses in the area as well as Saanichton Village Association are properly consulted.
Donna Friedlander, owner and operator of Tally-Ho Carriage Tours, welcomed council’s initiative.
“I’m absolutely thrilled,” she said. “The welcome that we have felt from working in Central Saanich has been incredible and quite heartwarming. The locals in this area are just thrilled to have horses in their backyard.”
Working with Sea Cider Farm & Ciderhouse, the carriage tour company offered tours last summer with Friedlander announcing that they will return this summer.
“The tours last summer were almost like a pilot (project),” said Paltiel. “They went really well and doing something on a more permanent basis is both a COVID-19 restart and forward looking to how we shape our municipality from a policy and planning perspective.”
Paltiel said he foresees the hitching post as large enough for three horse carriages with the possibility of it becoming part of a regional hub for active forms of transportation.
“From an active transportation perspective, there might be some neat synergies in this area as well,” said Paltiel.
Friedlander said the horses are bred to be working horses. “All the horses that work for Tally Ho are road safe horses,” she said. “They are used to traffic. They are used to cars. They are used to buses. We do our best to stay out of the way of traffic. We stay to the right hand side of the road and allow people to pass as they are able to. We do ask that people pass slow and wide, but the horses are used to it and they have special shoes that allow them both grip on the pavement and yet protection from any concussion to their legs.”
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