Tobogganing Suddenly Unsafe?

Canadians are no stranger to winter as we spend nearly 6 months in its grip. Many of us spend this time outside to enjoy the winter season. Snow angels, snow ball fights and ice skating are a few healthy Canadian winter traditions that all of us can enjoy – legally. But in recent years, one of the most popular winter sports has become a crime in some Canadian and US cities: tobogganing. In Hamilton for example, violators can be fined up to $5 000 dollars for simply going down a snow-covered hill on a plastic disc! Many Canadians are outraged by this bylaw and some choose to ignore the rule. Some hills are actively monitored where the law is enforced. Toronto is also adopting this rule with nearly half of its hills banning tobogganing. The penalty for Torontonians who choose not to comply: a hefty $125 fine.

The reason this law was put into place was to help prevent injuries as thousands of Canadians are sent to the hospital yearly because of this sport. But tobogganing is only ranked tenth in all sports-related injuries in Canada! Why ban tobogganing when sports such as football, basketball, rugby, skating, cycling and even fitness gyms and health centres pose more risk?

J. Clarke Richardson Collegiate student Michael Yacoub offered his opinion on Hamilton’s tobogganing ban: “With any activity people do, someone will always get hurt and get sent to the hospital. [Why stop] people from having fun when it’s safer then other Canadian activities?”

Although deemed unsafe by the government, tobogganing is a sport that all of us can safely enjoy. It is recommended to use a large sled made of wood or plastic with a smooth bottom surface. Sledding feet first on your knees or back is also safer. Also, wearing a bike, ski or snow-boarding helmet will help minimize the chance of injuries.

Tobogganing is still legal in many cities in Canada and the U.S. and Hamilton’s municipality has seen petitions racking up hundreds if not thousands of signatures for the right to freely toboggan. Tobogganing should not become taboo. Canadians should be able to make up their own mind when it comes to the risk associated with tobogganing.