Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Whose Rear End Is Being Protected?

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Whose Rear End Is Being Protected?

Article excerpt

Editorial Exchange: Whose rear end is being protected?

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An editorial from the Winnipeg Free Press, published Jan. 15:

The City of Calgary's website says tobogganing is "fun" and "free," but only if you restrict your pursuit of happiness to 18 government-approved sites. The fine is $100 for playing on unauthorized hills in Alberta's largest city.

Cities across North America have been banning one of winter's favourite pastimes because of liability concerns, protecting their own posteriors at the expense of families and children. Only a few cities have absolute bans against sledding on city property, but an increasing number are restricting it to selected sites.

The bans have sparked protests, demonstrations and even songs and videos from outraged Canadians. These "freedom sliders," as they were dubbed, stormed a hill recently in Orangeville, Ont., to mark their right to have fun.

Mercifully, the City of Winnipeg has no plans to ban or restrict sledding. The attitude of civic officials here is people toboggan at their own risk, regardless if it's down a city-owned riverbank or a wooden slide. It's no different than the city's attitude about summer playgrounds. You take your chances.

The city's website lists 11 official tobogganing sites, but kids and their parents use hundreds of hills small and large in their neighbourhoods to get their winter fun. It's not unusual, for example, to witness children sledding down a berm toward Bishop Grandin Boulevard.

Canadians have grown up on toboggan hills, speeding downhill on wooden sleds or sheets of cardboard.

It can be dangerous, and seven people were killed in Canada between 2003 and 2007, according to Catastrophic Injuries in Sports and Recreation by Dr. Charles Tator, a member of the board of an injury-prevention charity.

Eight years ago, a boy from Gilbert Plains, was killed after hitting his head. …

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