A Calgary councillor is trying to make it safer for kids to go out and play on their neighbourhood streets.
“I grew up playing street hockey,” Ward 5 Coun. George Chahal said. “It was a normal part of my life. I’ve grown up shooting hoops in front of a friend’s house on a cul de sac.
“But more and more, there are concerns that kids aren’t allowed to do that within their communities.”
Chahal said he’s received reports of bylaw officers confiscating sports equipment from children playing on city streets. He believes the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on children underscores the value of outside recreation.
Tuesday, Chahal introduced two notices of motion addressing safety — on streets and surrounding storm ponds.
The recent reduction of speed limits on residential roads will make those streets safer, Chahal said.
“And it will give more opportunities for kids to be able to go out and play, and parents to have less concerns about some of those traffic issues that may occur,” Chahal said.
Chahal wants city officials to review bylaws, provincial laws and other legislations that limit safe street play with an eye to allow it. Safety hazards and risks with any proposed changes would also need to be identified.
The Ward 5 councillor said a recent near-miss involving area men using their turbans to save a pair of girls from a storm pond in the city’s northeast was the latest reminder of how dangerous the stormwater collection structures can be.
“We unfortunately lost a member of our community a few years back — a young child who had drowned in a storm pond,” Chahal told Global News.
“As a child I almost drowned, so I’m quite close to the effects of water and the impacts on kids and families.”
The storm pond safety motion, if approved by council, would identify storm ponds that are near “high risk areas” like schools and playgrounds for improvements. A full public safety audit of conditions around all storm ponds would be done and a public awareness campaign would be launched.
“As you’re navigating and walking around these store ponds and they don’t end up falling in one and unable to get out,” Chahal said.
The notices of motion will be reviewed by city council at an upcoming meeting.