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Ontario community changes sledding laws in time for winter

Winters in Ontario can be long and hard to get through. To help combat that many people try to get out with their families to enjoy activities that only winter offers. One activity popular with adults and children alike is sledding. Unfortunately, the activity can also sometimes be dangerous and result in serious injuries to those involved. Depending on where the injury occurs, it is possible the owner of the land where the hill is located could face a lawsuit. 

Because of the potential for lawsuits, one city near Mississauga actually banned sledding on all hills located on property owned by the city. The ban in Hamilton was likely at least in part the result of an injury inducing tobogganing accident and lawsuit. The city ended up paying more than $900,000 in that case.

Recently councillors in Hamilton voted to select several hills owned by the city and take steps to make them as safe as possible so that they can be opened to the public. The decision reverses in part the current policy that bans all sledding on city property. In conjunction with the vote, the province was also called upon to make changes to the Occupiers’ Liability Act. The requested changes would result in a lower standard of maintenance, similar to how recreational trails are treated.

The head of risk management told the council that requiring children to wear helmets while sledding and adding hay bales in front of trees would help to make the hills where the winter activity is allowed, safer.

The ban was not popular with many residents of the city, prompting vocal protests and criticism throughout the rest of Canada. As a result, the change will likely be welcomed by many.

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