Health

Don't Be Afraid To Toboggan

By Adrian Duyzer
Published February 06, 2011

The Spectator recently featured an article about the dangers of tobogganing:

Hamilton paramedics have responded to six calls for tobogganing-related injuries in the last few weeks.

Most of these calls, said Hamilton EMS paramedic supervisor Mike Merko, were fractured limbs, with one head injury. Most of the injuries were sustained on golf and country club grounds.

Three women, ages 18 to 24, were taken to hospital Jan. 29 after their toboggan crashed into a tree at the Kings Forest Golf Club. One woman had serious head injuries.

Apparently (I did not know this) it's against the law to toboggan in city parks. Although no one has been ticketed this year, the City has posted signs in 19 parks indicating that tobogganing is banned. People who toboggan could be liable for a $105 fine.

If the ban on tobogganing is just to give the City a chance to avoid liability, and staff don't really intend on ever ticketing anyone, then fine. But if they plan on enforcing it (and what's the point in having bylaws that are never enforced?), then it's wrong-headed.

Of course tobogganing is a little bit dangerous. Most outdoor activities that are fun are, in fact, dangerous. Snowboarding, water-skiing, cycling, swimming, rock-climbing and playing hockey are all more dangerous than sitting on your couch watching television.

Or are they? Heart disease is the leading cause of death in Canada, accounting for some 30% of all deaths in Canada (69,000 in 2006). Along with heart disease, the risk of diabetes, certain types of cancer, and other lifestyle diseases is greatly elevated by poor diet and inactivity.

So although there is no possible way you can crash into a tree when you're sitting on a couch watching television and eating potato chips, if you make a habit of it, you can look forward to a shortened lifespan and chronic disease.

Rather than discouraging people from tobogganing by posting signs and warning about potential fines, I think we need to encourage people to toboggan, and skate, and ski, and snowboard, even though all of these activities carry some risk.

It's especially important for kids to do this stuff, because we live in Canada, and the winters are long here. Instilling a love of winter sports in children means they may grow up to be people who love winter and who are active in winter - and if you want to be a happy, healthy Canadian it helps if you enjoy the six months of cold weather we experience each year.

Still worried about the risk of injury? Wear a helmet.

See you on the hill!

Adrian Duyzer is an entrepreneur, business owner, and Associate Editor of Raise the Hammer. He lives in downtown Hamilton with his family. On Twitter: adriandz

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By drb (registered) - website | Posted February 06, 2011 at 14:09:45

Instead of telling citizens what they can't do, maybe the city can facilitate what people want to do. A couple of open hills, free of trees, where the city encourages tobogganing. How about Toboggan Share for those who don't own toboggans?

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By Ung (anonymous) | Posted February 06, 2011 at 18:02:07 in reply to Comment 59361

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted February 07, 2011 at 09:00:02 in reply to Comment 59382

Hey, the stadium debate is over. Go hug some pavement and leave us tree-hugging nerds to caring for our city and trying to do our part to make it the best placed to raise a child.

Perhaps moderators would help rid RTH of such hatred like other forums. Create a report button that sends an email to all moderators on a 'the first one to delete it' basis. Include the post in question in the email so all mods get to see it so they can all discuss later whether it actually should have been deleted or not to ensure no bias.

Great idea DRB. Or if people brought and extra one if they have them, that would perhaps make sure there were enough to go around.

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By HEM (anonymous) | Posted February 07, 2011 at 15:29:24 in reply to Comment 59394

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted February 07, 2011 at 16:53:34 in reply to Comment 59404

Where is Jelly? We need some 'I am a tree-hugging nerd' t-shirts. I'll take a large and two for my kids.

My eldest once walked up to the tree next to our house which must be around 100 years old, and hugged it out of the blue.

It was awesome. No idea why she did it but all I could think was 'that's my girl'.

Back to your comment DRB, what if we just put some padding around the trees instead of looking for tree-less hills? I seen some kid whack into a tree the other day and he was okay, but some sort of padding would surely limit injuries.

I took my girls tobogganing for the first time at the reservoir off of Greenhill and was shocked to see the 'no tobboganning sign' right where I parked. The place was packed though and my girls had a riot! I couldn't get them to go home and their cheeks were rosy and their dad was feeling it too dragging them up that steep hill.

They can't wait to go back. I used to love winter when I was a kid because I was active including playing hockey. I am learning to love it again in my adult years because of my children. They are a reminder of what it was like to be a child. Albeit I hurt a lot more after such outings, but I know I slept well Saturday night.

I did see some pretty wicked wipeouts though, but there was tonnes of adult supervision so I for one think that location should be recognized as an official tobogganning spot that seems to be heavily supervised. Even the parents of older kids came to hang out and watch with their coffees in hand. All they needed was some street meat and a bomb-fire to warm up the hands for a few minutes before heading back up the slopes and it could have been an entire day event.

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By drb (registered) - website | Posted February 07, 2011 at 18:45:17 in reply to Comment 59406

I'm imagining trees guarded by snowmen. ;)

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted February 07, 2011 at 20:12:48 in reply to Comment 59408

That is an even better idea. POW! the snowman get's it and heads roll, but kids suffer no more than a face full of snow, coal and carrots.

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By mike_sak (registered) | Posted February 06, 2011 at 14:38:27

the best spots for tobogganing are the reservoirs off of upper paradise, and the one on greenhill in stoney creek. the second one has bunny hills where you can get mad air . me thinks i want to go tobogganing now.

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By Robbie K (anonymous) | Posted February 06, 2011 at 14:42:20

West Harbour Tobaggan slopes anyone?

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By Ung (anonymous) | Posted February 06, 2011 at 18:03:34 in reply to Comment 59363

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By lawrence (registered) - website | Posted February 07, 2011 at 09:36:01 in reply to Comment 59383

Well West Harbor will continue to be a hot topic for a very long time so if you don't like those two words, perhaps you are on the wrong site.

Sorry, I know I am feeding them.

Comment edited by lawrence on 2011-02-07 09:55:07

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By HEM (anonymous) | Posted February 07, 2011 at 15:30:11 in reply to Comment 59396

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By jason (registered) | Posted February 06, 2011 at 15:06:51

Stonechurch resevoir is great, as is Chedoke Golf Course and the nice hill at Cootes Paradise.

Go tobogganing!!

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By Woody10 (registered) | Posted February 06, 2011 at 16:01:32

Problem is most kids parents don't want to take them to the hills anymore when they're little because THEY are out of shape. Everything is a cycle and it starts with us parents. Show your kids positive healthy habits and they're more likely to imitate. So take your kids I-phone, x box, DVD players etc. away, and take them to a hill and go tobogganing. Hike up the hill a few times and have some healthy fun!! Fun and exercise for all.

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By Hammer fit (anonymous) | Posted February 06, 2011 at 16:10:27

Unfortunately our recreation opps decline with cuts in cit funding. Hamilton used to have official toboggan sliding areas. We used to have two downhill ski areas. But cut backs removed those opportunities. But now we take our FF to pay for a stadium for people to drink beer, eat fries and scream nasty words at people.

The city should be creating opportunities for recreation and that includes winter activities like tobogganing. bring back our official hills and if it requires a waiver so be it.

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By Ancopa (registered) | Posted February 06, 2011 at 16:45:43

I don't think the message of that article was "Be afraid of tobogganing" so much as it was "Be safe when you toboggan, because if you hit a tree, it can f* you up!"

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By tnt (registered) | Posted February 06, 2011 at 16:47:35

Most parks in the city have some playground structures, but forbidden to play sports in them, are another waste of space that creates dark voids in cities. Think of all the life and intrest that comes with large groups of private citizens getting together for big days of sledding. Tailgate BBQ and hotchocolate, it would be a great feeling for everyone.

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By DanielRodrigues (registered) - website | Posted February 06, 2011 at 16:49:21

Battlefield Park is packed full of families blatenly breaking the law whilst tobogganing...all in front of paid City Culture & Recreational staff. What a great by-law we have! Making tobogganing illegal in City parks reminds me of those communities who banned road hockey!

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By ice rinks! (anonymous) | Posted February 06, 2011 at 17:13:04

Loving all the ice rinks in city parks downtown! Thanks to all the volunteers who maintain these. Haven't made it out to the new city rink at Bayfront yet, but I plan to soon. This is one instance of taxpayer dollars encouraging a healthy, family-oriented lifestyle! IMO, money well spent!

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By Woody10 (registered) | Posted February 06, 2011 at 20:50:58 in reply to Comment 59379

It's a great rink down there, had a blast with the family.

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By tobogganist (anonymous) | Posted February 06, 2011 at 17:27:20

To find more hills you can check out TobogganHills.com and also add the above local hills if they are not listed on the map, for others to locate and enjoy as well. :)

Be safe and have fun this winter!

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted February 06, 2011 at 21:53:36

Another ridiculous by-law from a thoroughly ridiculous municipal government. Attempting to enforce this would be a guaranteed face-full of snowballs.

Ban it. Forget about it. Blame anyone who gets hurt. It's a simple strategy for avoiding responsibility, but it doesn't make anyone safer.

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By FTLOG (anonymous) | Posted February 07, 2011 at 06:32:13 in reply to Comment 59386

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted February 07, 2011 at 06:37:16

More typical media fear-mongering. It reminds me of an article from a few years ago on the dangers of, um, playgrounds. It's important to understand that the media more or less by necessity focus on outliers, not on general patterns. As Bruce Schneier famously wrote back in 2005:

One of the things I routinely tell people is that if it's in the news, don't worry about it. By definition, "news" means that it hardly ever happens. If a risk is in the news, then it's probably not worth worrying about. When something is no longer reported - automobile deaths, domestic violence - when it's so common that it's not news, then you should start worrying.

Now consider that vehicle collisions and crashes account for some 43.9% of injury death in children from ages 1-14. If we were serious about childhood safety, we would design our cities so that children didn't need to spend much time in cars, and we'd design our streets so it was a lot more difficult to drive at high speeds.

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By isayrrr (registered) | Posted February 07, 2011 at 11:09:46

When my mom was a little girl growing up, kids used to bring ice skates to school and take turns lying down on the ground side to side so that someone could take a skating start and then jump over them! Kids aren't even allowed to throw snow balls, or climb trees nowadays.

And now they can't go to the park and toboggan...

I think you're very right, Adrian, that we're receiving some mixed messages about what we're actually supposed to do with our free time.

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted February 07, 2011 at 13:25:38

We live in a world so obsessed with safety, liability and rules that we'd rather condemn kids to a long and painful death by obesity than let them play outside like we did. Then again, what does one expect in an era where parents are actually seeing kids with rickets thanks to SPF-50+ sunblock?

Life kills. Ban it.

Anything to avoid actually looking at the numbers, evidence or systems responsible for actually killing our kids (and peers, and parents).

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted February 07, 2011 at 17:16:14

FYI, we bought one of those Zipfy things for my kid for Christmas - his first sled. Awesome fun, and they're probably on clearance anywhere that still has any.

And more to the point, light as heck to carry back up the hill. When I was a kid I gave up on my GT Snowracer pretty fast when I realized how nasty those things are to drag up a slope.

So anybody know if that hill over by Coronation is still sleddable? I saw they let the one at Princess Point get to a terrible state.

Sadly, a sign of our times changin' - my son will be wearing a helmet for that stuff.

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By Mr. Meister (anonymous) | Posted February 08, 2011 at 10:06:22 in reply to Comment 59407

The coronation hill is still very sleddable. Complete with the 35 year old no tobogganing sign.

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By Pxtl (registered) - website | Posted February 14, 2011 at 14:58:04 in reply to Comment 59415

Took my son there yesterday. Was definitely a success - his first time down a big hill and he loved it. He's only three, but he wore a helmet. He was ecstatic the first time he made it to the bottom without a spill.

The fences for the renovated pool are ominously close, but there's a nice uphill grade that makes it seem impossible to actually hit them.

Anybody know a good site for tobogganing around the city? I found http://tobogganhills.com but it is pretty much a graveyard - I filled out the Coronation Park entry and then looked around and realized it was the only one this side of Burlington.

Comment edited by Pxtl on 2011-02-14 14:59:13

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By hammy (anonymous) | Posted February 07, 2011 at 21:48:57

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By z jones (registered) | Posted February 07, 2011 at 21:56:47 in reply to Comment 59410

Seems to me you're the one with nothing better to do hammy, except hang around on RTH all day insulting everyone.

Dude, seriously, get a life.

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted February 07, 2011 at 22:07:08 in reply to Comment 59411

You're really better off just not feeding the trolls.

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By hammy (anonymous) | Posted February 08, 2011 at 00:57:39 in reply to Comment 59412

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By Ryan (registered) - website | Posted February 08, 2011 at 06:14:59 in reply to Comment 59413

Hammy, your commentary on this blog has gone from insulting and critical to merely insulting. You are persistently violating this site's terms of service and contributing nothing to the discussion. As I have written to you before: if you have nothing constructive to write, please stop.

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted February 08, 2011 at 14:05:52 in reply to Comment 59414

The trolling on this site is fast becoming insufferable.

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By Ryan Mubarak (anonymous) | Posted February 08, 2011 at 15:30:31 in reply to Comment 59418

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By highwater (registered) | Posted February 09, 2011 at 08:34:26 in reply to Comment 59420

Disagreement is not censorship.

Is it censorship for a man or group of men to tell you your ideas are inane and should not see the light of day? The answer is no. Not if they do not in reality have some power to censor your ideas. Their thoughts and disagreement with your ideas are not censorship, they are simply another form of ‘free speech’. Their ‘free speech’. ‘Censorship’ can only arise when one with the power to censor your ideas actually does so. It must be understood that 'censorship’ requires the power to prevent thoughts and ideas from reaching the public domain. Disagreement is not censorship. Boycotts are not censorship. Threats are not censorship.

Pretty sure we can add downvoting to that list.

I am not sure where the redefining of these terms originated, but I have some ideas. I believe it stems from a weakness of argument. From malformed self-esteem. From a narcissistic victim mentality. If one has faith in his ideas and opinions, hard formed through thought and pragmatism, he is open to dispute and debate. It is the man who fears the strength of his ideas to stand on their own who uses name calling and victim status to deny all debate.

Comment edited by highwater on 2011-02-09 08:46:29

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By Undustrial (registered) - website | Posted February 09, 2011 at 13:14:32 in reply to Comment 59429

Well put Highwater.

It never ceases to amaze me who effectively people can appropriate the language of marginalized groups to suit their own ambitions. The major complaint of trolls here seems to be that somewhere on the internet exists a web forum that doesn't entirely agree with them. Worse yet, it gets attention. And for its most fatal sin, it has default viewing settings that tend to dim their barbs and insults after a number of users vote to do so.

I seriously wish this was the worst censorship and oppression I had to worry about. Sadly, some of us have far more serious concerns than the existence of a web forum they disagree with. Some people are glad to have web forums at all, and many more don't have even that.

The sensorship has sailed. If trolling is free speech, then so is radio-jamming and DDOS attacks. It's a purely disruptive tactic and needs to be seen as such.

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By Tim Little (anonymous) | Posted March 16, 2011 at 21:26:15

I would give up sledding and consider bmx mountaqin bikes you will get all the thrills but none of the chills of winter.

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By GG (anonymous) | Posted January 05, 2015 at 23:26:27

So......potentially no more tobogganing, because people can not do anything responsibly any longer.
Even if it was practiced responsibly and someone gets hurt and it happens to be on city property, the all mighty dollar shall rear it's ugly head and create an irrational idea within that person that says its ok to sue. Even though a normal person whom is out doing an outdoor activity in which could be deemed dangerous (but not by legal standpoint but by common sense), would by all rights take into account a certain liability with one's self, and use the basic instinct of self preservation. I know this is said over and over again but we live in a society now where I have to lose out on the some of the things I love enjoying with my son because some people can not practice common sense and think they have a right to sue because they've injured themselves, when all they're doing is injuring the rest of us and laughing all the way to the bank. But who's laughing after they are paid and they can't even walk to the bathroom?? Not me. And certainly not them. But at least their pockets are lined.

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