One of the winter "must do's" in Newfoundland and Labrador is to go sliding.
It has always been a fun and cheap source of entertainment, fresh air and physical activity.
The Grinch of legal liability has worked its way onto municipal council agendas across Canada this Winter.
Moronic litigation, enabled by slip & fall, ambulance chasing lawyers enticing people to cash in is at the heat of the issue.
Yes, there is a need for people to be protected from negligence, but for the love of God, if you are going to get on a slide - you are responsible for your own safety. Do you check the depth of ice before walking or playing hockey on it? Yes.
So, if you are going to be sliding, check the path you plan to use to ensure there are no rocks or hidden debris! Walk up the side of the sliding hill, not the center! Wear a helmet!
What ever happened to personal accountability and responsibility?
Hamilton took the fun out of sliding and starting enforcing a municipal regulation banning the priceless practice after the city was hit by a litigation in the 1970's. In 2004 a man suffered a spinal injury after hitting a draining ditch concealed by the snow. In 2013, he was awarded $900,000 in damages courtesy of the courts.
These types of litigation make it irresponsible for those that administer our city to ignore the lurking liability. It is only a matter of time before someone is hurt and seeks compensation from the city. It is bound to happen and the City has no choice but to protect the taxpayer.
I hate potentially being placed in the position of telling my kids that an unjust law should not be followed. It sends out confusing signals about civic engagement and right and wrong.
Solutions are needed.
There is no sense in asking the city to ignore a real litigation issue that could leave the taxpayers shelling out funds.
Some cities are dealing with the risks and liability around sliding by creating sanctioned areas. That approach would be reasonable allowing unsupervised sliding hills that are properly maintained.
Surely the province or some of the high powered legal talent on retainer with the City can find a solution that indemnifies City Hall, protects the taxpayer and ensures that sliding does not become the next victim of nuisance litigation.
Now that the City has opened Pandora's Box, it is incumbent on them to find a solution that does not include banning sliding on city property.