LIVING

Orangeville 'No Tobogganing' Sign Leads To Protest By Mayor, Residents

01/12/2015 12:13 EST | Updated 01/12/2015 12:59 EST

One sledding spot in Orangeville, Ont. is so beloved that even the town's mayor wants to make sure residents are allowed to keep using it.

Mayor Jeremy Williams attended a Sunday "sled-in" organized by residents angry about a "no tobogganing" sign at the top of Murray's Mountain, according to CTV Barrie.

"I’ve been tobogganing on this hill almost my entire life and to think this is a place we can’t broke my heart,” Amanda Olmstead told CTV.

A sign forbidding tobogganing has been posted on Murray's Mountain since 2009, when the town bought the land from the school board and was directed by its insurance company to put up the sign over safety concerns, according to a press release on the town's website.

“Murray’s Mountain has never been classified as a toboggan hill, it’s never been insured as a toboggan hill, and it’s never been maintained as a toboggan hill,” said Parks and Recreation Director Ed Brennan in the release.

“While we all appreciate fun winter activities, some of them have inherent risks and bring liability issues for municipalities.”

The town replaced the sign with a more visible one at the beginning of December. A photo of the new sign was posted to Facebook on Jan. 7, drawing almost 700 shares and a lot of angry comments.

Some residents even stole the sign last week, according to the Hamilton Spectator. A teen was later apprehended by police and the sign was returned.

Several municipalities in North America have zeroed in on tobogganing as a potentially unsafe activity, adding restrictions or outright bans to head off potential lawsuits. Hamilton has banned residents from sledding in municipal parks since 2001.

There is no bylaw in Orangeville banning tobogganing on Murray's Mountain, Williams told the Spectator, and he said he's confused that residents are only becoming annoyed about the sign now.

“It’s been like that for five years, I don’t think it has stopped many people from tobogganing."

He told CTV the town plans to work with its insurance company to let residents toboggan. He also plans to raise the issue at city council on Monday.

As of Sunday, the notorious sign was missing, replaced with a handwritten one that read "Save tobogganing".

Rob Stewart, a resident who organized Sunday's protest, has strong feelings about the activity's Canadian heritage.

“Tobogganing is as Canadian as maple syrup. And it’s hard for kids to find safe, clean things to do," he told the Star.

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