Since the word got out about Hamilton’s sledding ban, the news and social media have been giving a lot of attention to tobogganing. Calgary has now followed suit, restricting many of their local hills. Stories of severe injury have been popping up in other cities causing many people to question the safety of this loved winter passtime. Rick Mercer’s commentary on it sums up how many other’s feel- that sledding is not commonly a dangerous activity and these by-laws are not a necessary step for public safety.
We at the Manitoba Nature Summit believe that all people have a right to outdoor play, and that risk assessment is a big part of the learning opportunities that outside has to offer. Laura Cole, an artist from Hamilton, wrote an amazing song about why we love sledding and how it should at our own risk instead of an all out ban.
For the sake of keeping our city toboggan-friendly, we have compiled some easy steps on how to make this a long term winter joy and minimize the chances of having it end on a sour note.
1) Aquire a sled. Wooden, plastic or cardboard. Long, circular, with or without rope or asteering wheel. A smooth surface contacting the snow is really the only requirement.
2) Dress Appropriately. A common chant in my house is, Skipants, boots, jackets, touques! You’ll likely also need your mitts and a neckwarmer and, for all out warmth, goggles!
3) Seek out a slope, any incline will do. (Here in the prairies we can’t be too choosy!) Hills near man made lakes in Winnipeg suburbs, wooden structures in city parks, a pile of snow in your yard is easy to make with the right amount of snow on the ground, or if you’re feeling really adventurous, a clear path toward the frozen river in January or February can be a ton o’ fun!
4) Read any signs posted. Look for anything that says Danger Thin Ice, Caution Trees, Use at Your Own Risk. If no signs are posted, and even if they are…
5) And here’s an important one! Assess the Risk. Whether they’re signage or not, scan the area for trees, poles, large holes or divots in the surface of the snow. Avoid sledding in the direction of those hazards. Teach any children that you’re with the etiquette of moving aside quickly once they reach the bottom to avoid any collisions with the people comingdown. Also let them know its important not to go until the people at the bottom are out of the way!
6) MOST Importantly! Have some FUN! Fort Whyte Alive lists this first on their list!
To honour those who cannot sled freely anymore we must hit the slopes with Winnipeg pride!
Send us your #sledfies, tag your photos with #UnitedWeSled and raise awareness that free outdoor play is a beautiful thing and shouldn’t be privilege to be revoked if not used responsibly- but do be responsible. #wearewinter