Tobogganing: winter sport or illegal activity?
Keeping kids physically active and safe a challenge for parents
Winter is a grind and tobogganing is one way to get out and have some fun despite the cold. But increasingly, there are regulations in cities across Canada and the U.S. to limit the winter sport. That even includes an outright ban on tobogganing in certain cities.
Hamilton, Ontario banned tobogganing in city parks 15 years ago. And recently, the city increased the maximum fine for illegal sledding to $5000.
One of the most popular hills on the western side of Toronto has a ban in place, and the city of Edmonton closes hills if they are deemed too unsafe. And even if there aren't any bans, some cities now record public service announcements around sledding safety, like one in Calgary that reminds sledders to wear helmets.
This cautious approach to what's traditionally been a rogue activity for kids has the attention of Mariana Brussoni.
She's an assistant professor in the department of pediatrics and the school of population and public health at the University of British Columbia.
"When you're looking at an outright ban, there's a number of problems with that," Brussoni said. "One is that we actually want people to get out there, we want people to be physically active, and we're dealing with an obesity epidemic... A ban that's eliminating yet another source of physical activity is counterproductive to those things."
Brussoni added concerns about tobogganing safety are an extension of what she calls an overly cautious approach to protecting children.
"I don't think it's specific to tobogganing. We're seeing this across all sorts of issues around children's safety. There's been increasing concerns around keeping children safe, and that has affected them in a variety of ways."
Brussoni acknowledged there are risks, and parents should be concerned about keeping their children safe. However, she said children need to be looked at as much more than just someone to protect from a potential injury.
Some parents in Hamilton are looking to get kids back on the hills. A petition calling for the city to reverse the ban has been signed by more than 1000 people.