Tar­get­ing to­bog­gan­ing

Out­doors-loving Win­nipeg­gers hope our city isn’t next

SundayXtra - - FRONT PAGE - By Bill Redekop [email protected]­ress.mb.ca

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.”

RUTH BON­NEVILLE / WIN­NIPEG FREE PRESS

Gabrielle Ainslie, age six, pre­pares to slide down a hill with her mother, Martha, on Wellington Cres­cent Satur­day.

PHO­TOS BY RUTH BON­NEVILLE / WIN­NIPEG FREE PRESS

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.

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