Street Hockey: A Canadian Institution Under Attack

The seeds of a disturbing epidemic seems to be sprouting in this country. The ailment? NGCD, or No-Goodian Cantankerouseum Disorder to use its proper classification. The most troubling symptom of NGCD appears to be an overwhelming urge by those afflicted to spoil the enjoyment and physical activity of others.

Most recently there have been a number of instances of Canadian residents filing complaints with law enforcement agencies over children playing street hockey, of all places, on the street!!???

This weekend saw one such incidence occur in the rural community of Prospect, Nova Scotia (about 30 minutes outside of Halifax). On a quiet cul-de-sac, well away from anything close to moderate traffic volume, the RCMP were called in to put a halt to a kids’ game of street hockey. When the RCMP arrived the game had already finished, and the children had moved on to other games, but parents of the children were told that if there were further complaints, the RCMP might have no other option but to confiscate the kids equipment.

This is the second such incidence in Nova Scotia this year. In April, RCMP were called to break up a game in Enfield, NS after a neighbour complained. (Link)

A disturbing trend is that in neither situation were the parents of the children involved contacted prior to calling the police, nor is the exact nature of the complaint expressed, so that perhaps a compromise could be found.

Of course, I am being overly optimistic by suggestting a compromise is possible. Most likely, there is little, if any, rationale for filing a complaint over children playing a game.

I sympathize with the police, because I know they don’t want to be involved in telling kids to stop playing. I am sure they would rather encourage kids to be involved in such activities, instead of participating in much destructive behavious. However, they have the unfortunate duty to respond to the complaints of residents and enforce the laws as they are written.

I also understand that municpalities are responsible for public safety and have concerns about liability. The laws that are on the books are primarily to protect children from playing near high traffic areas where the chance of injury is higher. Not rural neighbourhoods where the traffic is comprised mainly of the parents of the children playing in the street. Common sense needs to prevail and the sentiment has ben growing across the country.

Street hockey bylaws have long been a source of dispute in Canadian cities.

– Montreal In March, hundreds signed a petition in support of a Montreal-area father who was fined $75 for playing street hockey with his son and friends. The acting mayor of Dollard-des-Ormeaux said the bylaw should not be revoked but should only be enforced if there is a complaint.

– Kingston A Kingston cul-de-sac became the centre of a bitter road hockey dispute in 2008. The 15-house street led to 12 street-hockey-related complaints in the previous year — the highest for any street in the city. One resident who supported the bylaw banning street sports said she had been “turned into the Wicked Witch of the West,” by bitter neighbours.

– Halifax In January 2006, Sidney Crosby waded into the debate over a street hockey ban in Halifax, writing a letter to the mayor asking him to rethink a vaguely worded law that could have been used to outlaw street hockey.

– Rothesay, N.B. Two years before that, Bobby Orr made his displeasure known about a proposed Rothesay, N.B., street hockey ban. Town officials changed the bylaw to forbid the impeding of traffic instead of outright banning street hockey.

– Hamilton In 2001 in Hamilton, a resident frustrated with hockey playing neighbours took her complaint to district court. It was thrown out, but in drew support from hockey fans across the country.

– Port Coquitlam, B.C. In 2000, former Toronto Maple Leaf and Vancouver Canuck Tiger Williams stepped in when condo owners here went to court to force neighbourhood children off the road. “Ball hockey, roller hockey, ice hockey, it’s the fabric of this country, Mr. Williams said. He offered to pay the kids’ legal bills.

via The National Post

There are ever increasing distraction from actual pbysical activity and the outside world for kids today. I grew up playing hockey. My winters were spent bouncing between rinks throughout the province. Whenever the weather began to turn and the snow to melt, my neighbour became home ice for the Stanley Cup Championship to be fought over on a daily basis.

Games were played as long as there was two of us: one to play net and the other playing the part of the other 10 skaters.

Now it appears the game is under attack and it is just another reason for kids to stay inside and not be physically active. Please voice your opinion, and let kids keep playing outside.


Tags: , , , , , ,

3 responses to “Street Hockey: A Canadian Institution Under Attack”

  1. D Wills says :

    I hope that these complaints are isolated instances of people being cranky. In a country as diverse as Canada, hockey (both ice and ball/street) is one of the few truly national pass-times and I think it would be a shame for something so unifying to come under attack. I am in my early twenties and still play street hockey on a regular basis in the Vancouver area and have done so since I was old enough for my brothers to throw pads on me and stand me in the net.

  2. Schoolyard Puck says :

    People should only have a right to complain when there is a nearby outdoor rink for the kids to play at. It’s not fair to tell them they can’t play HERE, and then offer no alternative.

  3. Brian says :

    Obviously we don’t know how all of the various situations are handled but to me, this is not about hockey…all involved seem to be at fault. for further views.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s