Outdoors-loving Winnipeggers hope our city isn’t next
DON’T take away every last vestige of outdoor winter fun — in this case tobogganing — that can still get kids active and out of the house, say parents.
So don’t ban tobogganing on civic properties, such as the various garbage hills around the city the way Hamilton has.
The Free Press asked people to respond to an emerging trend banning tobogganing on civic property in some cities.
In Hamilton, it’s against the law to go tobogganing in any city park. The fine is $105 but can be as high as $5,000.
In Calgary, there are now 18 government-approved sites you can slide down. But if you ride on a crazy carpet on city land not on that list, it will cost you $100.
Civic governments are restricting tobogganing due to fear of liability from injuries. There are a lot more injuries from tobogganing than you might expect, including brain injuries.
There are even fatalities. Seven people in Canada died from tobogganing between 2003 and 2007. Eight years ago, a boy from Gilbert Plains suffered a head injury and died.
Winnipeg is not preparing any prohibition at this time, but bans are gaining momentum in both Canada and the United States.
Yvette Stevenson, watching her son, Pierre, nine, slide down Garbage Hill, a.k.a. Westview Park, said kids need something to get them away from computers, and tobogganing is one activity that still does the trick.
“My son is having a sleepover tonight, and I asked him what they’re going to do. He said they’ll stay downstairs and play Wii,” she said Saturday. That’s the norm these days.
“When I was a kid, we had to go outside for our fun.”
Statistics show people are becoming increasingly sedentary and less social because they spend so much time on the Internet. As well, parents have become more protective of their kids.
“People don’t let their kids go out and play,” Stevenson said.
“I think it’s stupid,” said father Jeff Lim, on the idea of banning tobogganing on civic properties. Lim was watching his sons, Kai, nine, and Jet, seven, slide down the Westview Park hill. “The thing is, we want to get kids outside.”
Lim would rather government enforce use of helmets. Neither his children nor anyone else’s were wearing helmets on the hill at the time.
Ben Winters feels the same way. He maintained his two-year- old son, Jaxon, will be wearing a helmet when he’s old enough to slide down hills on his own.
“I just think it is kind of ridiculous. There’s a danger in almost anything you do,” he said.
But helmet use could spread the way it has where many kids wear helmets while skating and are required to by law while riding bikes.
“It is a Canadian tradition,” Winters said of tobogganing. “Play safe and have fun.”
Gabrielle Ainslie, age six, prepares to slide down a hill with her mother, Martha, on Wellington Crescent Saturday.
ABOVE: Kai Lim (left) and his brother, Jet, make their way down Garbage Hill Saturday.
RIGHT: Jaxon Winters closes his eyes as he slides down a hill with his father, Ben Winters, on Wellington Crescent.