COLUMN: Accept that ‘activity’ is your responsibility

I would hazard a guess that in most garages across Canada, there is hidden away a sleigh or toboggan ...

COLUMN: Accept that ‘activity’ is your responsibility

On the Other Hand by Mark Rushton

I would hazard a guess that in most garages across Canada, there is hidden away a sleigh or toboggan, just waiting for a snow day and a squealing kid to run it down a nearby slope.

However, in cities across our nation and in many in the U.S., laws are in place designed to keep the sliders hidden away, all thanks to litigious fools who believe we should live in a nanny state.

Just last year, the city of Hamilton, Ontario, which by the way has banned tobogganing for many years and levies a heavy fine for scofflaws, was ordered to pay $900,000 to a lawyer who injured his spine on a toboggan run.

Where is personal responsibility and where is legal justice? The guy chose to enjoy the thrill of sliding, knowingly flouted the law in doing so, then succeeded in having the city ruled responsible for his injury.

A similar suit, for a similar amount, was also filed in Edmonton by a woman when her sled ran into something.

In the U.S., of course, those settlements are two to three times as much, and as a result many cities in snowfall states have instituted sliding bans.

No one denies that many sports are dangerous, and rocketing down a snow-covered slope with virtually no means of control is apparently only out-ranked in danger by scuba diving, snowmobiling and skydiving. I have yet to hear of anyone from the latter three activities suing the ocean, the mountain or the farmer’s field where they were injured or died.

So why should a city be responsible, particularly one that has instituted a ban on such activity with heavy fines in place to further discourage it? A question perhaps best addressed to the lenient courts of our land that appear to encourage and reward irresponsibility, and regard common sense as inconsequential.

If it looks dangerous, is against the law, and you do it anyway – suffer the consequences!

End of story, end of litigation.

At the end of the day, however, tobogganing and sledding is fun, and if you are careful (particularly with small children), it is a harmless and thrilling activity.

Years ago, wearing a helmet while skiing or tobogganing was considered “sissy.” Today it’s smart and sensible. Almost everyone is, or should be, wearing one.

Fortunately, in British Columbia there are no tobogganing bans in place that I’m aware of, but if there are, my advice is don’t go sliding there. There are plenty of other hills in this mountainous province of ours to do it and have fun.

Virtually every outdoor activity (and many indoors too) has inherent danger to it.

And it is your responsibility, not anyone else’s, to ensure you mitigate as much of that danger as you possibly can.

Fall while skiing, get tossed from a horse, zip the ends off your fingers on a table saw, get injured while sledding – not things you want, or plan, to do. But they can happen when you choose risky activities.

Yet, better to do them or any other healthy activity responsibly, I suggest, than sit on the couch all day playing video games.

markrushton@abbynews.com