Remember that scene from the movie Wayne’s World, where Wayne and Garth are engaged in a little ball hockey in the street outside Garth’s house? Maybe you remember a similar scene from when you were a kid. Around the corner from my house when I was growing up was a dead end street, the site of many a fierce street hockey battle on sunny summer afternoons — and as it was a dead end, never was the game interrupted by shouts of “CAR!”
Maybe your kids were out today playing street hockey after school today. If you live in the city of Toronto, they’d have been breaking the law.
Toronto’s public works committee recently agreed to uphold a city by-law preventing the most Canadian of past-times on city streets. Concerned with the possibility that lifting the ban would result in increased risk to the city, the committee has decided not to recommend to city council that the by-law be overturned. Granted, the by-law is rarely if ever enforced; kids have been playing street hockey — by law or no — on Toronto streets for years, and the fine is fairly insignificant. A motion is to be heard by City council sometime this month asking the council to allow parents to take responsibility for any damages or incidents occurring during a street hockey game.
You’d think that in a city as hockey mad as Toronto, that there would be many people in favour of overturning the bylaw, but as always, there are two sides to this issue. On one side are the parents who argue that street hockey is harmless – and given the increasing concern over childhood obesity, that it’s actually beneficial. Parents appreciate that their kids are playing in front of their houses, under their noses. And really. It’s hockey, for goodness sake. What’s wrong with kids playing hockey? On the other side, concerns about property damage, accidents, and the right of homeowners to enjoy their front lawns unencumbered by sounds of hockey sticks on asphalt abound. Oh, and don’t forget that the “war on cars” in this city is over.
What’s your take? Should street hockey be prohibited? If you don’t live in Toronto, what’s the story where you live?