By Domenic Loschiavo
There is a move afoot to get Toronto kids back to being more active. Ward 16 Councillor Christin Carmichael Greb has requested that city staff prepare a feasibility report on allowing the use of basketball and hockey nets on the side of neighborhood streets epically those with no sidewalks. Right now Toronto bylaws prohibit any object blocking city streets. People can be fined $55 for breaking the law.
In a meeting of the city’s Public Works and Infrastructure committee last week, Greb brought a motion to amend chapter 743-9 of the Toronto Municipal Code. Specifically, Greb’s amendment asks for basketball and hockey nets to be allowed on streets where there are no sidewalks.
This isn’t the first time this bylaw has been contested. In 2012, Councillor Josh Matlow attempted to loosen the law and allow an exemption for road hockey. He was ultimately unsuccessful.
Although no specific deadline was given, Greb said she expects the study to be completed in early 2016.
Greb told Humber News that she brought up her motion as a result a lack of green space in Ward 16.
“There is not a lot of green space so there is no local park that is close enough for kids to go and play,” said Greb. “There aren’t a ton of facilities in close proximity to go and play hockey and basketball. We want to make sure kids are outside playing and not inside watching TV and playing video games all the time.”
Greb said the city’s liability would be an issue in turning over the bylaw, but she said she is committed to keeping kids moving.
“Really we have to look at keeping kids active. It’s a big problem right now. If we take away more ways for them to make it easier for them to be active it doesn’t help,” she said.
Katherine Janson, director of communication and public affairs at ParticipACTION said the balance between risk and safety has today’s society in a stranglehold.
“The reality is that if we constantly find ways to keep kids from being kids and playing outside and doing things that have some element of risk involved in them, then the long-term effect will be that we are endangering their health and safety even more,” said Janson.
Although she said she understands why the bylaw has prevented street play, she said it’s time for kids to become more active.
“They are going to be less active and more susceptible to chronic disease over the long run,” she said.
Janson said that only nine per cent of Canadian kids are active enough to meet the physical activity guidelines and barriers such as these bylaws are a factor.