Tobogganing Saved for Willowdale Sledders

Last month, I wrote about emerging data through the COVID-19 crisis underscoring the importance of getting kids out into local parks to stay active. Last week, Mayor Tory announced the City’s Winter parks plan, including locations for skating, tobogganing, snowshoeing, disc golf, and even archery in E.T. Seaton Park. 1500 parks would have enhanced winter maintenance. 800 playgrounds would stay open. All seemed to be aligned to get our kids, and all Torontonians, as active as possible over the winter.

Unfortunately, someone in our local parks office seemed to have missed a memo.

I was more than taken aback last weekend when another parent in my neighbourhood pulled me aside and asked “what’s with the ‘no tobogganing’ sign in the park?”

For generations, the slope entering Burnett Woods has been a cherished destination for families in the area offering the perfect tobogganing slope for younger kids. My family has already been out for an initial run this season. How in this, of all seasons, could the City be closing down this hill? But sure enough, at the top of the hill was a big sign citing Chapter 608 of the municipal code marked “NO TOBOGGANING ALLOWED.”

Did the City have some restrictions on neighbourhood tobogganing that I was unaware of? Pulling up the city’s bylaws, I uncovered that it was against the bylaws to toboggan in a park anywhere that was marked “no tobogganing”. In other words, tobogganing was perfectly fine under city rules – until someone posted the sign. It turned out that ours wasn’t the only hill affected, Glendora Park had been marked as well. Parents were understandably grumpy.

Knowing that John wasn’t going to stand for this, we quickly made a few calls. The Parks Department, to their credit, quickly reviewed the situation and agreed that we could do something to fix this. The sign at Burnett Woods was removed, while there was some work done to a grate at the bottom of the Glendora hill to make that safe as well. Tobogganing in the neighbourhood appears to have been saved – but if there are any other hills in Willowdale that we should review, please let me know. Please play safe and be aware of distances from any objects near the hill or fellow sledders on the hill.

As mentioned last week, the rink in Mel Lastman Square is also now open from 10 AM – 10 PM daily, but reservations are required for a 45-minute session to keep numbers under 25. Reservations can be made here (note the instructions section on how to find ‘Reservations’ in the eFun guide). Our office has also ensured that the washrooms in the North York Civic Centre will be open for skaters. On a different day, you may also want to explore the ‘snow loop’ in Don Valley Golf Course

Hopefully the most important question left will be – do you add marshmallows to your hot chocolate?