Tobogganing in London is, seemingly, one of the most popular winter activities. With hills around the city, it’s rare to find an empty hill on a snowy afternoon in January.
But those living in Orangeville, Hamilton, or other municipalities in southwestern Ontario don’t have that luxury. Tobogganing bylaws are in place there because if someone gets hurt, someone is to blame. The city needs to cover its butt.
Hamilton’s risk manager John McLennan says the law has been around ever since he can remember.
“As far as I know, it’s for sure been around since the city amalgamated with its area of municipalities in 2001. It simply says, ‘No tobogganing on city property.'”
Here in London
London’s risk manager Jason Wills explains that things aren’t quite the same here in London. While Hamilton has recently (in the last five years) lost a lawsuit that paid an injured sledder nearly one million dollars, London hasn’t yet faced that type of backlash.
“To my knowledge, there hasn’t been a tobogganing ban in London. We don’t have any designated tobogganing hills in London,” Wills says. “We’re kind of neutral on the whole matter, and we understand that tobogganing is an activity that’s going to happen every winter.”
“When you’re walking on the sidewalk in the winter, when you’re riding your bicycle, when you’re tobogganing, you need to make sure you’re doing things in a safe manner,” he says.
McLennan in Hamilton says that since the lawsuit, the city has taken on the task of putting up more signs and updated signs at hills on public property. He’s also proposed the idea of having two or three designated sledding hills in the city.
Back in the forest city, Wills says there’s no indication that there will be a ban on the winter activity.
“No, it’s as Canadian as maple syrup, and as far as I can see looking into the future, we think it’s a great thing to do in London.”