Tobogganing and Injuries on City of Ottawa Property
Many of us remember the first snowfall of the winter and the excitement of grabbing our toboggans and running for the hills. It’s what many children did then and it’s what many children do ( or at least want to do now). The situation now however has changed slightly. As more cities in Canada embark on a tobogganing ban, parents are left with many questions: Is this safe? Is this ridiculous? Are we going to have to bubble wrap our kids? What is the city’s responsibility?
Hamilton, Ontario has had a tobogganing ban in place for over 15 years; however recently, the City started installing more “no tobogganing” signs to remind people of the ban in place. Hamilton residents were unhappy, as they now faced a fine ranging anywhere from $105 to possibly even up to a $5,000 fine for tobogganing, even though these were not new by-laws for the city. Many believe that the reason the city suddenly chose to emphasize its tobogganing by-laws was because the City of Hamilton was ordered to pay $900,000 to a Hamilton resident who was injured on City property in a tobogganing accident in 2004 .
Orangeville Ontario also banned tobogganing after their insurance company said tobogganing may be a liability issue, following the death of a 14-year-old boy, whose toboggan hit a tree and he suffered a fatal head injury. Will Ottawa follow suit ?
Tobogganing in the City of Ottawa
In Ottawa, we do not have a tobogganing ban. In fact, the City of Ottawa oversees 57 tobogganing hills during the winter season. The public is encouraged to check ottawa.ca regularly for condition updates. A list of approved hills can be found at http://ottawa.ca/en/residents/parks-and-recreation/parks-and-sports-fields/sledding-hills. As far as a tobogganing ban in Ottawa…Well, never say never; however Ottawa’s Sports Commissioner Jody Mitic seems opposed to such a ban. He was quoted in the Ottawa Sun as saying “I keep hearing about it and it’s ridiculous, I don’t see what the point of banning it is” He then goes on stating that he is supportive of a bylaw that would enforce helmet use, such as the current by-law for helmets and bicycles.
As an Ottawa personal injury lawyer, yes I do see the dangers of tobogganing. I am also the father of 3 young children, each of whom got a shiny brand new toboggan for Christmas. I believe we need to look at activities such as tobogganing as calculated risks. It’s a delicate balancing act and yes, there are some inherent risks and dangers that accompany tobogganing. As a parent, I allow our children to toboggan; however I do check to make sure the grounds are reasonably safe. I look for trees, ditches, ice etc.. I establish certain ground rules, ie: no standing on the toboggan, I make sure my children wear a helmet at all times. I am aware that each year there are many catastrophic injuries due to tobogganing but I am not prepared to “bubble wrap” my kids. I recently appeared on CTV National News and Rogers TV offering legal advice on the responsibilities of municipalities. If you would like to see these programs you can view it here http://www.rogerstv.com/page.aspx?lid=237&rid=4&sid=68&gid=229918
All this to say, yes the City of Ottawa has a responsibility to keep its premises reasonably safe, under the Occupier’s Liability Act. There are many instances where someone has had a slip and fall accident , motor vehicle accident , or suffered other types of injuries on City of Ottawa property and it’s been found that the City was responsible because they did not keep their premises reasonably safe. For more information read this https://www.ottawainjury.ca/lawyers/ottawa-personal-injury-accidents/slip-and-fall-accident-on-city-of-ottawa-property/.
Get out there and enjoy this incredibly cold winter we are having. Please do it as safely as possible. Take the necessary steps to ensure your safety and the safety of others. If you have suffered an injury and are unsure of your rights or need more information as it relates to accidents, injuries and safety, please contact any of our personal injury lawyers. we would be happy to help in any way we can.