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Orangeville residents to protest 'no tobogganing' sign at local park

Residents in Orangeville are outraged over a “no tobogganing” sign erected near a tobogganing hill at Murray’s Mountain park.

A photo of the sign was posted on Orangeville Ontario’s Facebook page on Wednesday, and so far the posting has received close to 600 comments.

“What are your thoughts? … There were reports earlier this week that tobogganing could be banned throughout Canada and the U.S as a result of people getting injured,” one commenter said.

“So next are they going to ban hockey and playing in public parks? Because you get injured just the same,” one person wrote.

“I need a dislike button. I’m so sad. My husband tobogganed there as a child,” another poster said.

“People are upset because this has been a toboggan hill since the very beginning. It was set up and built as a toboggan hill,” Orangeville Mayor Jeremy Williams said in an interview with CityNews.

Williams said the sign was put up on a post at the top of the hill when the town purchased the property in 2009, as part of the insurance company agreement.

“At the time, our insurance company said we had to put a ‘no tobogganing’ sign,” he said.

However, Williams said there is no bylaw against tobogganing at that particular hill.

“The sign was put up at the request of our insurance company, and we could not maintain our insurance if we didn’t put the sign up. There is no bylaw.”

The mayor said he wants to make it an official tobogganing hill, which means it would have to go on the insurance policy and the town would have to make sure safety standards are met.

“If we want to have it as a legal tobogganing hill, we will have to get a rider on our insurance policy and certain standards have to be met,” Williams said.

“Like any ski hill or snowboarding hill, we have to make sure the snow is a certain quality, that it isn’t too icy.”

Watch a video below from 2012 that showcases tobogganing at Murray’s Mountain, or click here for a mobile-friendly version.

Williams said the sign has faded over the years, and was replaced four-and-a-half weeks ago. He said people are probably only noticing the sign now because it has been a warm winter until recently.

“I think with our weather being so warm, it could have just simply been that not many people came out until recently [and] noticed the sign.” he said.

He also thinks part of it may have been that the signed was facing the other direction.

Williams said plans to bring up the tobogganing issue at a city council meeting on Monday.

“Seeing if we can fit it into our budget and make it an official tobogganing hill,” Williams said.

“Officially, you’re not allowed to toboggan; however, I do look forward to changing that so we can officially allow tobogganing in a safer way as possible.”

Some residents are planning a protest or “sled” by tobogganing hill on Sunday morning, organized by Rob Stewart. The hashtag #sledin2015 is also circulating on Twitter.

Williams said he backs the residents and will be attending the protest. He also plans on going down the hill.

“I am looking forward to being a part of it … people in Orangeville want to toboggan, and I am right behind them,” he said.

“Everyone loves to toboggan in the winter, especially the kids.”

The Orangeville Banner reports the sign was stolen on Wednesday evening, and that police “apprehended a youth near the popular tobogganing hill.” However, no charges were laid.

Tobogganing in other municipalities

In Toronto, tobogganing was banned from one hill beside Etobicoke’s Centennial Park ski hill in 2011 due to an undisclosed number of injuries. The fine is $65. In general, tobogganing is allowed unless there’s a sign prohibiting the activity.

Explore the interactive map for the 9 best tobogganing hills in the city. Mobile viewers, click here.

A Mississauga spokeswoman said the city has five parks bylaw-designated toboggan hills.

“The hills at these parks are inspected on a regular basis by our Parks staff and are closed if conditions are unsafe,” Karen Flores said in an email.

She also said the city does not have plans to ban tobogganing at its parks.

In Hamilton, tobogganing has been banned for almost 15 years, and residents can be fined if they do so. However, a petition was started on Nov. 19, 2014, seeking for the restriction to be changed, and so far, around 3,000 people have signed it.

Should tobogganing be banned at city parks? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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