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Niagara Falls
Wednesday, April 17, 2024
Horse-drawn carriage operators compete for limited parking permits
Laura Sentineal, of Sentineal Carriages, wants a permit to park four carriages on King Street this year, as she did in 2023. EVAN LOREE

The town may be back to two horse-drawn carriage operators in 2024.

Laura Sentineal, who owns Sentineal Carriages with her husband, Fred, asked council to consider granting her an additional permit to park her company’s horse-drawn carriages in Old Town, since a rival company has not indicated an interest in continuing its operations this season.

The rival company, Queen’s Royal Tours, is owned by Sentineal’s brother-in-law Jeff Sentineal, who decided not to operate his horse-drawn carriage service in 2023 due to health issues.

“We have the infrastructure, we have property, We have everything. We’re ready to go,” she said.

Sentineal was confused to see a staff report that indicated the town intended to allow Queen’s Royal Tours to park its carriages on public property outside the Prince of Wales Hotel, as the permit was to be sublet to an unnamed party. 

Sentineal said she received four licences from the town in 2023. 

But Coun. Sandra O’Connor pointed out that the town granted only three to Sentineal Carriages, one to Queen’s Royal Tours and one to Ronda Cave, who also spoke to council at the meeting Tuesday night.

“Somehow that morphed internally and through council into one coming to us, one to Ronda and, of course, we retained our original three,” Sentineal said.

Acting chief administrator Bruce Zvaniga said the rules governing the carriage businesses in town are complicated.

Business licensing is the Niagara Region’s domain, he said, but added the town issues a permit that allows the holder to use space in Old Town to park carriages and rest horses.

“The town currently issues five licences to occupy town land. Complicated term, it’s really renting a parking space if you like,” Zvaniga explained.

Council allowed Queen’s Royal Tours to sublet its parking space to Meagan Sentineal in 2023.

Zvaniga explained that the subletting of that space was done through the regional business licence of Sentineal Carriages.

Sentineal told council she’d like to continue using the fourth spot in 2024 since the business licence for Queen’s Royal Tours is still inactive.

Coun. Wendy Cheropita suggested the town contact Jeff Sentineal before granting the request, to see if he intended to activate his business licence for the 2024 season.

After some back-and-forth discussion, council agreed it would do so in one week, assuming Jeff Sentineal does not activate his business license.

In an interview later, Sentineal confirmed he plans to operate his business for the 2024 season.

evanloree@niagaranow.com

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