No bike riding, no chalk drawings: Vancouver Island strata bans outside play on quiet road

A bylaw was passed last week in Artisan Gardens, a neighbourhood development in Chemainus, prohibiting outdoor play on the roadway.

Parents say cul-de-sac road has little traffic and play is supervised by parents

Three-year-old Aubree Germiquet plays with chalk on the side of the road in a Chemainus strata, a practice that was banned in a new bylaw last week. (Crystal Clarke/Submitted)

The sight of children playing outside on quiet neighbourhood streets is nothing unusual on a warm summer day but one strata on Vancouver Island has banned the practice.

A bylaw was passed last week in Artisan Gardens, a neighbourhood development in Chemainus, prohibiting outdoor play on the roadway.

That means no hockey, baseball, skateboarding, chalk artistry, bicycling or other sports and recreational activities, the bylaw specifies.

"We were all a little blindsided," said Crystal Clarke, a mother of three who rents in the neighbourhood.

She said the road, a cul-de-sac that connects to a main road, is "very, very quiet" and rarely sees traffic.

Hoping for compromise

As a renter, Clarke couldn't vote on the decision but said she's hoping the strata will reach a compromise with parents.

For now, when her three-year-old daughter asks to go ride her toy car outside, Clarke says no.

"We don't want to ruffle too many feathers as we are trying to figure it out," she said.

She said she understands why sports like hockey and baseball might be banned because of the risk of a ball damaging a vehicle or window but hopes the rest of the ban will be reconsidered.

"We really want the bike riding back and we should be able to let the kids [draw with] chalk," Clarke said.

"They said it looked like graffiti, but we'll spray it off at the end of the evening when they're done, no problem with that."

Chrystal Clarke says the street is quiet with very little traffic passing by but she bought high visibility vests for Aubree Germiquet, right, and Sophia Howard, left, for extra safety in the hope the the ban on street play will be lifted. (Crystal Clarke)

Part of childhood

Christa Howard owns a house in the strata and voted against the bylaw, one of the four votes against compared to the 15 votes for the ban.

"The generation of people urging us to get our children to go outside are now the ones telling us this is not allowed here," she said.

"It definitely makes it a little more difficult for us to not be that helicopter parent."  

It's not an adults-only community, she emphasized, and there are roughly a dozen children who live on the street, mostly between the ages of four and 10.

"We didn't even know that anyone had an issue with our children, there was no warning," she said.

Howard didn't know an issue like this would come up when she bought her home two years ago.

"I don't think I should have to sell my home to move somewhere where my child can live out her childhood," she said.

CBC contacted the strata management company, Freelance, and it said it had no comment.

The sight of children playing outside on quiet neighbourhood streets is nothing unusual on a warm summer day but one strata on Vancouver Island has banned the practice. 8:25

With files from Jean Paetkau and On The Island.

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