Mayoral Candidate Releases Plan to Reallocate $5.9 million a year in savings to Vision Zero Road Safety Initiatives
Toronto – Mayoral candidate Gil Penalosa announced today that as Mayor he would disband the Toronto Police Service’s mounted unit and reallocate the $5.9 million per year in savings toward Vision Zero road safety projects to protect Torontonians. This move follows the lead of many American cities who have eliminated out-dated cops on horses.
“Paying almost six million dollars a year for the mostly ceremonial mounted unit is a luxury Torontonians can no longer afford when people continue to needlessly die on our streets and Vision Zero remains largely unfunded,” said Penalosa. “Our police need to focus on getting guns off the street, not riding on horseback like it’s the 1800s.”
The value of mounted police in a 21st century police force has been increasingly questioned in recent years. Kevin Walby, an associate professor of criminal justice at the University of Winnipeg who researches policing and security, no longer sees a rationale for having mounted units, stating that cops on horses are a nostalgic nod “to prior decades or centuries of policing.”
The safety of police horses in crowd control situations has also come under increasing scrutiny. There have been many incidents across North America of residents and horses being injured in confrontations, including a woman being trampled by members of the Toronto mounted unit in Ottawa earlier this year.
Many American cities have moved on from cops on horseback in recent years, including Boston, Las Vegas, Baltimore, Portland, Washington DC, and San Diego. Former Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam moved a motion to consider disbanding the mounted unit in Toronto during the 2022 budget debate. It was voted down by John Tory and his allies:
“City Council request the Toronto Police Services Board to give consideration to phasing out the mounted unit to secure an estimated annual saving of up to $5.9 million.”
Gil Penalosa will reallocate the $5.9 million annually from the mounted unit and invest the savings into Vision Zero road safety measures that could include street redesigns and increased enforcement. Gil will release his full Vision Zero plan later in the campaign.