From The Guardian:


Walk the neighbourhoods of Halifax, Winnipeg or Richmond, and you might still happen upon the odd game, played mostly in the dying light of the short evenings. More likely, however, Canadian children will be elsewhere – tied up with after school activities, working on homework, or simply playing something else, safely indoors. No skinned knees, no rapped knuckles, no dirty hands.

It’s not just street hockey that’s disappearing from Canadian streets. It’s kids, too. …Most cities are reluctant to endorse street hockey. In Vancouver, you need a written permit. In Montreal it is mostly prohibited (except in alleyways). Ottawa allows it, but feels compelled to insist that “free flow of traffic is maintained once an adjustment in the game has been made to allow the passage of a car”. (For those of you who speak Canadian or have watched Wayne’s World, you’ll know that is the legal definition of yelling: “Car!”)

And in Toronto, arguably the nation’s biggest hockey market, the signs are explicit, even italicised for effect: Ball and hockey playing prohibited. …

Hockey 2“Society has forced us to always consider the worst case first and proceed as if it’s likely to happen: ‘How would you feel if your kid got hit by a car?’ ‘How would you feel if your kid doesn’t get a scholarship because he wasn’t practicing his hockey skills with a trained professional?’” Skenazy says. “Everything is framed that way and parents are scared to death. In response, they keep their kids in only supervised situations and … that’s not fun.” …

There are hopeful signs that we may at least deal with the suffocating bylaws. This spring, the city of Calgary removed a paragraph on its website stating that hockey nets were banned on streets, making it clear that street hockey is permitted. And this month Toronto’s public works committee started debating whether street hockey and basketball should be legalised again.

It is only the starting point to a solution. “Life brings life,” Jane Jacobs wrote of urban street activity. The more kids are in the streets, the more kids will be in the streets. When children are permitted to own their time and own their play, they will.

Full article here.