Toronto bans kite flying in city park

The City of Toronto has taken the unusual step of banning kite flying in one of its parks mainly because of a danger to animals.
As of Tuesday there is a $100 fine for flying a kite in Toronto's Milliken Park. ((iStock))

Toronto took the extraordinary step on Tuesday of banning kite flying in a city park.

Some kite flying enthusiasts are advocates of kite fighting — where two kites do aerial battle, trying to cut the string of their opponent. 

The problem is the kite string — which in many cases is as strong as fishing line — can get caught in trees or left on the ground, where birds and other small animals can get wrapped up in it.

Local resident Lynn Wilkinson regularly walks her dog through Milliken Park, near McCowan Road and Steeles Avenue East.  She says she's seen animals caught in the kite string.

"There was, like, a bird of prey, an owl, and it was caught up in the trees," she recalled. " And there was a seagull last summer, and it was still alive and it was strung up across the walkway all caught up because it got caught between the trees."

String gets tangled in equipment

City workers also complain they are constantly picking kite string from the trees and untangling it from their maintenance equipment.

Chin Lee, the councillor for Ward 41, says the problem is that Milliken Park has become "the" destination for kite fighters while wildlife and other park users that pay the price.

"I've had reports of people getting tangled in the string and falling and of people being cut in the face by string that has become snagged in the tree," Lee wrote in a news release.

Some ducks and geese in the park's pond have lost limbs because "the string gets wound around their legs cutting off circulation to the limbs ...," the councillor said.

Lee said it isn't practical to try to enforce a ban on just kite fighting, so the city has decided to go for a ban on kite flying in general, because the strings have become a danger. 

Reminder of Pakistan

Elton Highfield, whose yard backs on to the park, says he sees kite string in the trees and even  found it caught in the tires of his daughter's bike but he loves seeing the colourful kites flying above his home. He says it reminds him of his childhood in Pakistan.

"This sport should always keep going," he said. "If you're not going to fly in the park where you going to fly from? Your house." 

So far Milliken Park is the only park in the city where kite flying is banned. Anyone caught faces a $100 fine.

Lee said the ban is the "best solution for now," and that if the kite fighters move into another park the city will just extend the ban.