Hamilton's mayor and Terry Whitehead will have a toboggan race

For years, tobogganing was banned. Now the mayor and one of Hamilton Mountain's highest profile councillors will race each other down the hill.

It's a change from last winter, when tobogganing was still effectively banned in Hamilton

After what was effectively a ban for years, tobogganing is allowed on sanctioned hills in Hamilton this winter. The mayor and a city councillor will demonstrate at a Winterfest event on Saturday. (Laura Cole/Youtube)

It's a sign of just how much the tobogganing landscape has changed in Hamilton.

Fred Eisenberger says he hopes Whitehead doesn't "wimp out." (Adam Carter/CBC)

A year ago, the activity was more or less banned. Now this weekend, the mayor and a city councillor will race each other down a hill.

Mayor Fred Eisenberger and Terry Whitehead, a Ward 8 councillor, will hop on sleds to see who can get to the bottom fastest at a Winterfest event called the Healthy Kids Community Challenge kickoff.

There are still details to be worked out, such as whether they'll be on slick snow racers or old-time wooden toboggans. And they're not sure what the exact course will be at the Garth and Stonechurch Reservoir toboggan hill.

But Eisenberger was clear on the challenge after a city council meeting on Wednesday.

Terry Whitehead says he's from northern Ontario, where everyone does plenty of tobogganing. (Samantha Craggs/CBC)

"We're going tobogganing," Eisenberger told Whitehead. "You and I are going to race down the hill."

The sportsmanship is symbolic in a city where tobogganing has made headlines in the last two years.

Years ago, the city implemented a bylaw banning tobogganing after a lawyer, Bruno Uggenti, was injured while tobogganing and successfully sued the city for $900,000.

The bylaw always allowed tobogganing on sanctioned hills, the city said in November. But later that month, the city made a point of officially sanctioning some hills.

Whitehead, a councillor who spearheaded the city to look at the bylaw again, chose the Garth Street location. If the snow holds, this Saturday marks the first formal tobogganing event there.

Whitehead described his reaction when he first heard of the anti-tobogganing bylaw.

"I thought, 'This isn't Canadian,'" he said. "It's like road hockey in the street."

With the sanctioned hills, Eisenberger said, "we've managed to put the fun back into winter."

The event is from 1 to 4 p.m. on Feb. 13 at the tobogganing hill at Garth and Stonechurch
1515 Garth Street,  The race between Eisenberger and Whitehead will happen between 1 and 1:30 p.m.

It's a music video about tobogganning in Hamilton


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