Wait—street hockey is illegal in Toronto? No wonder our kids are fat

Wait—street hockey is illegal in Toronto? No wonder our kids are fat

Outlaws (Image: doviende)

Spacing publisher Matthew Blackett was at Yonge and Dundas when Sidney Crosby scored the gold-medal goal for Canada back in February. He watched as an impromptu hockey game broke out on the street, thinking: too bad that’s illegal. According to Blackett, the by-law outlawing the most Canadian of pickup games came from the pre-amalgamation version of Toronto, and became the law of the megacity afterwards. Breaking the rule comes with a $55 fine—something most hockey-playing kids don’t typically have on hand—and certainly not the kind of punishment a doctor would order when 1/3 of young male Torontonians are overweight.

And that’s why if Blackett and his supporters get their way, street hockey and other ball-playing would be legalized once again.

Getting chubbier kids out in the fresh air is only one part of the dream. The other is reclaiming quiet, residential streets for more than just traffic and parking. “If we just look at streets as utilitarian things,” says Blackett, “then we don’t use our front porches and we don’t see our front lawns.” It also makes drivers slow down when they think little Timmy might be around the corner, chasing a loose ball. “I’m loath to call kids traffic-calming devices, but I saw it work when I played on my grandparents’ street,” says Blackett.

Street hockey legalization gets its first test tomorrow at the Public Works Committee. It’s expected to jump the first hurdle easily—as Blackett says, “this is a nice, non-ideological thing the city can pass.”  Read: it doesn’t involve bike lanes or Transit City, so it might actually survive in Toronto’s politics in 2010. Blackett says he’s only gotten one anti-legalization email about street hockey so far.

Even a “non-ideological” act like this still won’t see any action until after the election in October, but it’s hard to imagine anyone seriously opposing something like this. It’s a bit like opposing motherhood—no city councillor will commit that kind of political suicide.

• Publisher cites childhood obesity in efforts to legalize hockey on Toronto roads [Globe and Mail]