A proposal to ban tobogganing at all but two municipal parks in a city east of Toronto is drawing criticism from lawyers who say the plan won’t boost safety but could limit access to the popular winter pastime.
Personal injury lawyers say the restriction proposed in Oshawa, Ont., appears to be an example of often overstated municipal liability risks outweighing tobogganing demand.
Patrick Brown, a longtime Toronto-based injury lawyer, called the proposal “ridiculous” and a “knee-jerk reaction,” saying municipalities rarely face successful injury claims for sledding injuries.
A report slated to go before Oshawa city council on Jan. 30 says an insurance review of 10 city-owned hills known to be used for sledding found a number of issues that must be addressed to mitigate risks.
The report says it would add an extra $30,000 to the city’s annual operating budget to apply all the insurer’s recommendations, but city staff could implement them on two popular hills without additional resources.
Many Ontario municipalities limit sledding to approved hills, including Toronto, Hamilton and Ottawa, where a young girl died after a tobogganing incident in late 2021.
Derek Wilson, a Hamilton-based personal injury lawyer, says Oshawa should place restrictions on only the most dangerous hills and otherwise spend money to make the others safer for widespread access to the affordable winter activity.