Lord Mayor Betty Disero has written to Ernie Hardeman, the Ontario Minister of Agriculture, to ask for protection of the local horse and carriage business.
The Province has been asking for input to Bill 156, the Security from Trespass and Protecting Food Safety Act, an Ontario bill intended to protect farm animals, the food supply, farmers, and others from risks that are created when trespassers enter places where farm animals are kept; or when people engage in unsafe, unauthorized interactions with farm animals and transport vehicles.
In her letter, Disero says she supports the bill and the protection it gives farmers and their businesses, adding that she would like to draw the attention of the ministry “to some operations that this bill overlooks.”
“In Niagara-on-the-Lake, Sentineal Carriages, a long-time family horse-drawn carriage business, has been targeted by animal activists for the past three years. While I respect everybody’s right to protest peacefully, however, my fear is that quite often these protests end up in megaphone use and loud yelling and aggressive behaviour from both sides,” she says in her letter.
“It would be dangerous if the horses get spooked and end up in the middle of traffic unintentionally,” she says. “The carriage drivers are stressed, which the horses can feel.”
Disero describes protestors yelling at people to boycott the carriage company, and Niagara-on-the- Lake as a whole. “As you know, much of the Niagara-on-the-Lake business community relies on tourism,” she reminds Hardeman.
“I ask that you consider including horses in the definition of farm animals and expand the animal protection zones to also protect animals when they are away from the farm, and out in the public. Please consider Sentineal Carriages and the Town of Niagara-on-the- Lake when finalizing Bill 156.”
Couns. Norm Arsenault and Gary Burroughs both lauded Disero’s letter and support for the horse-drawn carriage business in town.
Laura Sentineal of Sentineal Carriage is also hoping the provincial bill could help protect her horses, and horse-drawn carriages, and has asked for support from the public.
Sentineal says she’s been told the legislation could be applicable to her business, which is registered as a farm, she says. The bill, she added, could protect all horses in public.