The Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake has moved to improve safety and security for horse-drawn carriage operators.
Council has unanimously approved licences to occupy land outside of the Prince of Wales hotel to Sentineal Carriages Inc. and Queens Royal Tours Inc.
“This licensing that we’ve put in place was meant to provide a level of protection for the workers (and) for the horses,” manager of parks and recreation Kevin Turcotte told council on Monday, June 20.
The licence restricts access to the designated area, “so that any people going into that area (are) only going for caleche business,” said Turcotte.
The licence to occupy land means the carriages have exclusive use of and access to a rectangular area along the curb on King Street beside the hotel.
“With adding this area it allows us a little bit of leeway to keep people — I’m not going to say directly protesters — to keep people out of that area for safety,” said Turcotte.
“It’s creating a safe work area for these two operators.”
The designated area is on the east side of King, directly adjacent to the Prince of Wales hotel.
The carriage operators have exclusive use of the secondary sidewalk, which borders the road, while the inner sidewalk, which borders the Prince of Wales, is still open for anyone to use.
The immediate corner of the intersection of King and Queen streets, where people cross the street, is also still open for public use.
The designated area stretches 29 metres down King and 7.5 metres from the centre of the sidewalk onto a portion of the road.
Coun. Erwin Wiens asked Turcotte to explain how enforcement would be managed.
“It’s going to be managed through our bylaw department. It’s going to be based on time in order to manage the incidents.”
Turcotte said the change had been drafted multiple times during extensive consultation with the caleche operators, town staff and lawyers, and the Region of Niagara and its lawyers.
“I would say that’s a pretty comprehensive plan to review.”
Lord Mayor Betty Disero said she also consulted with the Niagara Regional Police Service.
Protests against the horse-drawn carriage businesses in town have been ongoing for several years. Last year, the tension reached a pitch when a physical confrontation broke out between an employee of Sentineal Carriages and a protester.
Sometime after the confrontation, the young employee’s mother arrived on the scene and was arrested after an altercation with a protester.
The town is providing five licences for the spaces at a cost of $500 each. Three will go to Sentineal Carriages and two to Royal Tours.