The Current

Municipal bans on tobogganing a slippery slope for enthusiasts

It's a wintertime activity that's as old as the hills but potentially as dangerous as skydiving. That's why some cities are putting the brakes on tobogganing. We hear just how dangerous sliding down a hill can really be, and why municipal tobogganing bans are starting to snowball....
It's a wintertime activity that's as old as the hills but potentially as dangerous as skydiving. That's why some cities are putting the brakes on tobogganing. We hear just how dangerous sliding down a hill can really be, and why municipal tobogganing bans are starting to snowball. 

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Municipalities across North America are increasingly restricting the hills people are allowed to slide on -- or banning the activity all together. That's the case in Hamilton, Ontario, where a little snow-sledding could land you with a big fine, up to five thousand dollars.

Now it's not that cities like Hamilton want to do away with fun altogether... it's just that hurdling down a snowy hill on a flimsy sled does land a number of Canadians -- including children -- in the emergency room every season.

In fact, one Toronto head and spinal trauma specialist declared that when it comes to catastrophic injuries, tobogganing is the fourth most dangerous sport around -- after diving, snowmobiling, and skydiving.

Sandra Pilkey, of Kitchener, Ontario, knows the dangers of tobogganing all too well. She had an accident while tobogganing at in Kitchener, Ontario in 2007.

The kind of injuries that Sandra Pilkey experienced on that Kitchener, Ontario hill are all too familiar to Dr. Charles Tator. He's a neurosurgeon and an expert in concussions -- and he's seen his fair share of toboggan trips gone wrong.Dr. Charles Tator is also the author of a book called "Catastrophic Injuries in Sport and Recreation."

Few of us would relish being cast as a killjoy. But when it comes to banning tobogganing, some municipalities say they've simply got no choice.

Sam Merulla is a city councilor in Hamilton and the vice chair of Public Works.

It's hard to deny that sledding down a hill can be a risky activity. But then again, many might argue that that is exactly what makes it so much fun.

And there are at least 3,754 folks who feel that Hamilton's tobogganing ban needs to be reversed. That's how many had signed the "Let Us Toboggan" petition the last time we checked. Laura Cole started that petition, She joined us from our Hamilton studio.


What are your thoughts on this discussion? Do you toboggan? Does this segment change things for you? Get in touch.

Tweet us @thecurrentcbc. Or e-mail us through our website. Find us on Facebook. Call us toll-free at 1 877 287 7366. And as always if you missed anything on The Current, grab a podcast.

This segment was produced by The Current's Marc Apollonio.

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