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Trending: Is it time for city hall to overturn the ban on street hockey?

CityNews | posted Tuesday, Jun 21st, 2016

Long before kids somehow became entangled in municipal red tape, they were bulging the twine with red Titans, burning off enviable energy reserves while mimicking their heroes on Hockey Night in Canada.

There are few things more Canadian than road hockey. And in simpler times, bylaw officers weren’t required to prevent catastrophic collisions with menacing vehicles.

A simple holler of “Car!” was enough. The nets were temporarily removed. The car passed, and the frenzied pursuit of a raggedy tennis ball commenced.

Occasionally a ball soared into a carefully manicured garden. It was handled internally. A neighbourhood matter.

But the lame game of bureaucracy, fueled by overzealous nannying and lawsuit fears, has silenced the scurrying of sticks on many side-streets in Toronto.

While once-fit children slowly gained weight and found other pastimes, like smoking weed and joining gangs, the city plastered its glaring white notices, citing by-law 522-78.

It reads: Ball and Hockey Playing Prohibited.

Toronto bylaw sign, May 18, 2011. CITYNEWS.


Nintendo thumb would soon replace welted shins as the prominent childhood injury and future generations appeared doomed to lives of apathy and sloth.

Scattered groups of rebel road hockey players bravely defied the ban until a resident on Esgore Drive near Wilson Avenue and Avenue Road complained last September.

That led to a bylaw blitz, with up to 20 homes being sternly warned that they faced $90 fines if they continued their flagrant mockery of law and order.

But a voice of reason emerged.

Mayor John Tory, just over a year into his tenure, called BS on the bylaw.

“I don’t know who the people are who have the time to remove hockey nets from streets,” he said at the time. “Most kids and their parents are sensible enough to move the hockey net off the streets when they see cars coming along.

“What’s next?” Tory asked. “Are we gonna ban Halloween because kids are walking on the sidewalk in the dark?”

What came next was a request from the Public Works and Infrastructure Committee, asking the city to study “the feasibility of allowing basketball nets and hockey nets on the public right of way where no sidewalks are provided.”

The convoluted report that followed outlines several possible scenarios, but concludes that the best approach would be to keep the existing bylaw intact.

“Retaining the existing regulations allows Transportation Services and Toronto Police Services to undertake enforcement when these activities are causing a hazard, or as a result of a complaint,” it reads. “Enforcement of these regulations should remain complaint driven and discretionary.”

That report was debated Monday at city hall. The Public Works and Infrastructure Committee agreed to study the data and provide the information to council on July 12.

As usual, a lot of hot air and red tape for a problem that a kid could solve in seconds.

Just yell, “Car!” and get the game on.


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