Could careening down a snowy hill on a sled be a thing of the past in the Sudbury region?

Greater Sudbury tries to stay out of sliding entirely, saying there are no approved or maintained hills on city property and that residents toboggan at their own risk.

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Children slide down a hill in the Sudbury region. Some are concerned the rise in tobogganing lawsuits will put a damper on the fun. (Erik White/CBC)

But Municipal liability consultant Doug Wiseman said that kind of policy could put the city at risk.

"In general, the idea of just saying 'Welcome to Sudbury, use at your own risk, doesn't cut it," he said.

Wiseman said property owners are legally required take reasonable steps to make sure known sliding hills are safe, however he noted the number of tobogganing-related lawsuits is on the rise.

Keep ‘their nose out of it’

Despite risks to both tobogganers and property owners, sliding remains the unofficial, unorganized sport of winter.

The sliding hill behind the Coniston Arena doesn't have a name, but it is looked after by the local playground association.

The group brought in a porto-toilet this winter, but doesn't set out rules for the hill — and Coniston Playground association president Aaron Vehkala wants to keep it that way.

"I don’t want to try to organize activities that are unorganized," he said.

"Teach the kids to just show up and learn how to play on their own without an adult telling them and directing them what to do. So I'd be happy if the city kept their nose out of it."

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Greater Sudbury councillor David Kilgour says you can't stop people from finding a good hill on which to go sliding, but their may be some engineered options, like a tubing course, the city can look into to make careening down hills more safe. (Erik White/CBC)

Engineering fun on the hills

Plans are in the works, however, to turn one of Greater Sudbury's ski hills over to tubing.

City Councillor Dave Kilgour is working on converting the Capreol ski hill into a tube park — where people would pay admission and ride down the slope on inflated rubber inner-tubes.

He said parks like these are very popular in southern Ontario and the northern US.

It would also be nice to have one sliding hill in the city that's officially safe and secure, he said.

"That's the one beauty of doing something like a tubing run, because it would be completely engineered, it would be safe," Kilgour said, but then added:

"You're not going to stop people from going out and finding a good little hill [on which to go sliding]

. I did it 60 years ago, so they'll do it for another 100."

An engineer is slated to do a survey of Capreol ski hill to see what would be involved in changing it into a tubing hill.