It's 'officially' toboggan season again in Hamilton after a long ban

After years of a complicated legal struggle over banned sledding, the city has four designated hills and they are about to officially open.

The city has four designated hills and they are set to officially open

Tobogganing used to be more or less banned in Hamilton. Now it's allowed on four hills. (Laura Cole/Youtube)

After years of protest from tobogganing enthusiasts over a ban on the winter sport, Hamilton will officially open its tobogganing hills on Friday.

Tis the season when families turn their thoughts to tobogganing.- Mayor Fred Eisenberger

The city is permitting tobogganing on four hills, which open on the last school day before the winter break.

The hills are as follows:

  • Chedoke Golf Course (563 Aberdeen Ave.).
  • King's Forest Golf Course (100 Greenhille Ave.).
  • Garth and Stonechurch Reservoir (1515 Garth St.).
  • Waterdown Memorial Park (200 Hamilton St.).

The openings, while seemingly innocuous, are a hard-fought win for local tobogganers.

Years ago, the city implemented a tobogganing ban after a local lawyer was injured while tobogganing and successfully sued the city for $900,000.

When residents learned of the ban, they held protest tobogganing events. Local musician Laura Cole even wrote a song about it.

Coun. Terry Whitehead was among those unhappy with the ban. "I thought, 'This isn't Canadian,'" he said last year. "It's like road hockey in the street."

The bylaw always allowed tobogganing on sanctioned hills, but the city had never actually sanctioned any. That changed last fall.

To mark the occasion, Whitehead and Mayor Fred Eisenberger raced each other on toboggans in February. Eisenberger crossed the finish line first, but without his sled.

"Tis the season when families turn their thoughts to tobogganing," Eisenberger said in a media release Wednesday. "I encourage you to have fun and play safe on designated hills this year."

Council debated the tobogganing issue at least seven times over the years before they approved it.

It costs the city about $12,000 per year to maintain the hills. That's "the best money we've ever spent if we don't revisit this issue ever again," Coun. Sam Merulla said last year.

The city warns people to wear a helmet and follow the posted safety tips. It's also posted some at hamilton.ca/tobogganing.