Toronto city council has voted to reverse its decision to ban street hockey in the city, just days after a provincial cabinet minister penned an open letter calling for the ban to be overturned.
“I am ecstatic that we were able to get something through this quickly,” said Councillor Christin Carmichael Greb, who put forth the motion after complaints from residents in her ward about bylaw notices for hockey and basketball nets blocking roads.
“Now kids can be active and it gives them another mode to be out and having fun and learning street smarts and building community.”
Council voted 35-2 in favour of lifting the long-standing ban, with Jon Burnside and Stephen Holyday the only two councillors voting against it.
Stephen Buckley, outgoing general manager of transportation services, said his advice and the advice of legal staff was against the decision.
“There’s many times when council chooses to overturn staff advice and we’ll work with it,” he said, adding that the motion includes direction on how to implement the change and move forward.
“It basically gives very specific criteria about when and where this can occur but ultimately at the end of the day acknowledges that the risk is on either the parents of the children or the persons in the street themselves.”
Earlier this week, Ontario’s new minister of children and youth services Michael Coteau sent an open letter to city councillors asking that they vote to strike down the ban.
City staff wanted council to keep the prohibition in place, citing safety and possible liability if anyone gets hurt or if private property is damaged.
“I think parents need to teach their kids how to be responsible and play safely and most of us grew up doing it so it’s not anything that’s different,” said Carmichael Greb.
“You yell, ‘Car!’ You get out of the way and then you yell, ‘Game on!’ And then come back and play. So I think it’s something that is doable.”
With files from The Canadian Press