Toronto has banned tobogganing at 45 hills across the city due to safety concerns and one councillor says he’s not happy with the move because there are more important issues that should be drawing the attention of city staff.
Coun. Brad Bradford, who represents Beaches-East York, said on Friday that residents can manage the physical risk of tobogganing. He said the ban shows that Toronto is becoming a “no fun city” that doesn’t respond to the needs of families.
“This is just nonsense,” said Bradford. “It’s the no fun city when you start seeing them cracking down on tobogganing, especially in a place that has decades of experience and a tradition of tobogganing.
One of the hills where tobogganing is banned is East Lynn Park on Danforth Avenue near Woodbine Avenue.
The park, located in Bradford’s ward, has been a popular spot for tobogganing for years. Now there are signs at the top of its hill that say the activity is not allowed there. Last winter, there were bales of hay wrapped around the trees at the bottom of the hill.
“The reality is there are going to be people tobogganing in East Lynn Park tomorrow,” Bradford said.
“We’re supposed to get 10 centimetres of snow overnight. That might include me and my daughter. It’s not a good use of time. It’s not a good use of resources. And again, this is why folks get cynical on the city of Toronto,” he added
Bradford said he realizes the ban is in place due to liability concerns, meaning if a person tobogganing on a hill in the city gets injured, that person could sue the city for damages. But he said the ban is an “all or nothing” approach that assumes people are not taking personal responsibility for their actions.
He said there is more thoughtful way to manage the liability.
Tobogganing permitted at 29 hills at 27 parks, city says
In an email on Friday, the city said there are 29 designated toboggan hills in 27 park locations across Toronto.
The city said designated toboggan hills must have a clear path from the top of the slope to the bottom, without any obstacles or hazards, such as trees, ditches, trails or fencing. The designated hills are inspected regularly to ensure safety, it added.
“Tobogganing is not permitted at some hills because of hazards obstructing the slope, which render the hill unsafe for tobogganing,” the city said in the email.
“East Lynn Park was assessed using the toboggan hill inspection process and deemed unsafe due to several permanent obstacles and safety hazards onsite, including a staircase, wading pool, field house building, light poles and trees.”
As for the 45 hills where the activity is banned, the city added: “This value is dynamic and may change year-over-year depending on site conditions.”
In 2017, the city said it implemented a toboggan hill inspection program. Under this program, city staff regularly inspect “highly-used” toboggan hills and signs are posted that outline the risk of tobogganing.
“The city is responsible for ensuring its properties and any activities performed on its properties are reasonably safe,” the city said.
Troy Burtch, an east-end resident and father of two children, said the ban is “ridiculous” and it’s clear from the marks in the snow on the hill that people are tobogganing on the hill despite the ban. He said the hill was packed with children and parents last weekend.
“If you’re going to go tobogganing, you know what you’re doing. You’re going down a hill on a piece of plastic and there’s potential for a broken arm or just a bruise. The kids have a great time here and we’ve been doing this since they were little,” he said.