Ottawa

Hockey helmets now the rule for kids on city rinks

Starting Saturday, kids 10 and under who want to go skating at a City of Ottawa indoor rink will have to wear a Canadian Standards Association-approved hockey helmet — no bike or ski helmets allowed.

Skaters 10 and under must wear CSA-approved helmet on indoor ice starting Feb. 1

Kids 10 and under must wear CSA-approved hockey helmets while skating at indoor City of Ottawa rinks starting Feb. 1. Cages aren't required for recreational skating. (CBC)

Starting Saturday, kids 10 and under who want to go skating at a City of Ottawa indoor rink will have to wear a Canadian Standards Association-approved hockey helmet — no bike or ski helmets allowed.

Kelly Bean, who helped come up with the city's new helmet policy, said helmets designed for other sports don't offer proper protection from falls on ice.

"A different helmet protects your head in different ways for different types of falls," she said.

Hockey helmets are also designed to withstand multiple impacts, so skaters can keep wearing them even after falling and knocking their head on the ice. Bike helmets, by contrast, must be replaced after a single impact.

"You typically fall a lot more on the ice than you would off of a bicycle," she said. "The goal behind this campaign is to ensure everyone is safe."

Cages are not required on the helmets for recreational skating.

Coupons to defray cost

The city is offering coupons for 15 per cent off hockey helmets purchased at Play It Again Sports, and will offer a pass for free family skating at a later time to people who show up without the proper helmet.

Used hockey helmets can cost as little as $25, while new helmets start around $45 and can cost $100 or more.

Marcia Morris, executive director of Ottawa Sport Council, a group that promotes physical activity in the city, strongly supports the city's rule change. Morris believes it will help prevent concussions and head trauma, which can be life-altering and sometimes fatal.

"I think it's absolutely amazing," she said. "The city has done a really good job balancing safety and accessibility."

The city recommends all skaters wear a CSA-approved hockey helmet, regardless of age.

All participants in on-ice recreation programs run by the city, such as learn-to-skate classes, are already required to wear a CSA-approved hockey helmet. That includes adults.

Ottawa Public Health recommends helmets for anyone, of any age, participating in a range of activities including skateboarding, in-line skating, cycling, sledding, skating, skiing and snowboarding.

Clarifications

  • A previous version of this story suggested there would be free skating for anyone this weekend at city rinks. In fact, passes for free skating at a later date will be given to anyone who shows up with a helmet that's no longer approved.
    Jan 30, 2020 10:57 AM ET

About the Author

Laura Glowacki is a reporter based in Ottawa. Previously, she worked as a reporter in Winnipeg and as an associate producer for CBC's Metro Morning in Toronto. Find her on Twitter @glowackiCBC and reach her by email at laura.glowacki@cbc.ca.

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