A handful of local governments are taking action and putting an end to what we Canadians know as tobogganing…and we can only hope other municipalities will follow suit before it’s too late.
For decades, parents have been subjecting their children to what can only be described as blind neglect for the wellbeing of society’s youthful innocence. Tobogganing is a sure-fire way to inflict injury on those who depend on their parents for protection, as are a myriad of other ‘traditional’ activities, like skateboarding, riding a bike and dare we say it, ice-skating.
The Eagle is embarrassed to say that it has reaped the benefits of youngsters and their families being permitted by the Town of Cochrane to toboggan on the hill in Bow Meadows off George Fox Trail. Kids laughing, screaming and hitting jumps have on more than one occasion donned the front of our newspaper. These children were unaware of the imminent dangers this pastime posed, but now that municipalities are being threatened with lawsuits, they are finally wising up and putting an end to this ‘activity.’
Parents cannot be expected to be responsible for their children’s choices.
Times change, and generations prior have been awarded freedoms that have for decades put their safety at risk, and when today’s unknowing parent allows their child to toboggan down a hill – hills that are often unmonitored and lacking safety personnel or first aid gear – they make the uninformed assumption that their loved one will be safe and return home none the worse for wear. But every now and then, this is not the case. Children are inflicted with a bruised knee, a jammed finger, they have the wind knocked out of them, get a bloody nose, or worse.
There are some pro-tobogganing folk who might say, “But people can get hurt or worse doing just about any activity, be it cycling, playing sports, climbing a jungle gym, or tobogganing.”
These people just don’t get it, and are a perfect example of why elected officials must step in and protect our future generation.
The Town of Cochrane does not maintain any hills for the purpose of tobogganing, and advises that everyone, no matter the time of year, should always use appropriate care and caution when playing outside, including checking for hazards and obstacles in the area they will be using for their activity.
If that is not a dire warning, then what is?
Irresponsible people, however, continue to rebel.
Just take a look at the events in Orangeville, Ont., where the responsible municipality posted a ‘No tobogganing’ sign at a popular hill where people have tobogganed for years. Local residents reacted in defiance, plastering their displeasure on social media and boldly questioning the ban, saying that allowing people to ‘toboggan at their own risk’ would have been sufficient.
If people were allowed to toboggan ‘at their own risk’, and ended up injuring themselves (which, considering the nature of the activity, is very likely) who do you think the hammer would drop down on? The municipality, that’s who.
Municipalities cannot just sit around waiting to get sued, they must take action, which is why the Town of Cochrane should take action and ban any activity that poses a risk to our children, adolescents and adults. For the federal or provincial government to simply enact a law that would eradicate municipalities from being legally responsible if a child gets hurt while tobogganing just does not go far enough…how does the child protect themselves from the parent, who allowed them to partake in such perilous activities?
Bravo to the municipalities that have taken action. The public may not realize it now, but you have given our children a fighting chance.
Editor’s note: After reading this editorial, if you are seething at its context and overall message, Eagle staff are relieved. There is a fine line between the government’s responsibility to create a safe environment for its citizens and the sheer ridiculousness of banning activities that should be the choice of parents. When children and their families make safe and smart decisions, to play together, be active together and laugh together, nothing should hinder that. So get out and hit the slopes!