Three years after the ban on horse-drawn carriages in Montreal, citizens are concerned about the living conditions of three horses that are still kept in a stable in the Griffintown district, next to a parking lot and a construction site.
Prince, King and Jesse worked to pull tourists in horse-drawn carriages for years, in Old Montreal.
But they no longer have the right to travel in Montreal since December 31, 2019, following a decision by the city council. Area residents wonder why they live in the middle of town, where exercise space is limited to gravel.
The horses belong to Luc Desparois, owner of Les Calèches Lucky Luc. Citizens are sorry to rarely see horses outside their stalls.
“They sometimes go out on Sundays, as far as we can tell. But most of the time, they stay in their paddock,” laments Juan Enrique Hinojosa, who lives not far from rue des Bassins, where the stable is located.
Mr. Hinojosa is part of the vegan group A voice for them, which defends the cause of animals. The group has already held events in the past to denounce the living conditions of Luc Desparois’ horses, in a stable they consider unsanitary. Complaints were also made to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAPAQ).
The group even asked for donations in order to be able to buy the horses, to send them to animal shelters in the countryside, but Mr. Desparois reportedly refused. Two shelters, one in Vaudreuil and the other in Alexandria, Ontario, have already received retired carriage horses and would be ready to accommodate the three animals from Griffintown.
“We just want the horses to have a good retirement,” explains another activist, Jessie Nadeau.
Another citizen unrelated to the group, the committed artist KAT, also complained to MAPAQ, but regrets having received no response. According to her, the conditions in which the horses are kept constitute “abuse”.
Dilapidated sheet metal stables, a bit of hay in the snow, unkept hooves, land that gives the impression of being used as a dump…
KAT, committed artist, after a site visit
Although he points out that he cannot comment on any specific file, MAPAQ publicist Yohan Dallaire Boily says that agents went there. “We can confirm that the file is known to our inspection service and that interventions under the Animal Welfare and Safety Act have taken place over the past few months,” he wrote in an emailed response.
During these inspections, a report is submitted to the owner of the animal on the subject, among other things, of the layout of the facilities, the presence of water and food, the condition of the animals and the care given to them. are provided, explains Mr. Dallaire Boily.
If problems are detected, inspectors can request corrective measures, issue a notice of non-compliance, file an infraction report with the Department of Justice if the situation is not corrected and possibly seize the animals.
Luc Desparois has already been sanctioned for mistreating his horses.
In April 2016, a report from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food noted the unsanitary condition of Mr. Desparois’ stable and imposed a $600 fine on him. According to the report, the horses were forced to lie down in their dung.
The caléchier was also fined $750 for letting his horses circulate when the temperature was too high, in July 2018. In addition, it was a horse belonging to him who died in the middle of the street, in November 2018 .
“In perfect health”
Luc Desparois sued the City to invalidate the by-law prohibiting horse-drawn carriages, but lost in Superior Court, then in the Court of Appeal last November.
During a brief telephone conversation last Friday, Mr. Desparois assured that his horses were “in perfect health” and that the complaints came from “tarlas” who are trying to harm him.
“We know how to take care of our animals,” he said. We still work with them, they are very happy to exercise, we do daycares and all kinds of places, on the South Shore, on the North Shore, in Montreal. »
He maintains that “there is only half of the city where one does not have the right to circulate”, even if the municipal by-law specifies that “it is forbidden to exercise the business of transporting people in means of a horse-drawn carriage, sleigh or cart on public property”, throughout the territory of Montreal, which was confirmed by the office of Mayor Valérie Plante.
The land where Luc Desparois’ stable is located has belonged since 2020 to an investment company in which Omnia Technologies and Claridge, from the Bronfman family, participate. The caléchier is a tenant there.
Last year, investors submitted a project for a 20-storey condo tower to the Sud-Ouest borough. But it required a derogation from the zoning regulation for a construction of 60 meters in height, rather than the regulatory 25 meters, and was rejected following a public consultation.
A new request is being studied for a residential project respecting the planned height of 25 meters, indicates a spokesperson for the borough, Anyck Paradis, which would lead to the demolition of the stable.