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Banning tobogganing: Could it happen in Finland?

January 16, 2015

Last week I was listening to the local morning program from my hometown on the internet and nearly flipped out when I heard the headlines surrounding one story: Cities in Canada are banning tobogganing.

Tobogganing, sliding down hills: An integral part of childhood for any child who lives in a country where it snows in the winter. When it is done safely and with adult guidance and supervision, it can be a really safe and fun activity.

But it seems in increasingly risk-adverse (and law-suit squeamish) Canada, municipalities and schools are outright banning unstructured activities for kids in fear of being sued when someone gets injured.

I was furious, and I wasn’t alone. My first thought is why can’t people take responsibility for their own health and safety when they participate in outdoor recreation activities? There is no need for the over-the-top mitigation of risk by municipalities, schools and organizations. Take care of yourself and your loved ones for heaven’s sake!

I mentioned to several friends and to the host of the morning program I was listening to that in Finland the liability laws do not work like they do on the other side of the pond. In Finland, if you’re dumbass enough to get hurt while doing something questionable, the healthcare system will take care of you, but you’re not going to be able to sue anyone. Fortunately there is still an element of “at your own risk” here and aggressive, in-your-face personal injury lawyers – unheard of. Thank goodness.

So I think banning tobogganing in Finland would probably never happen… But, you never know.

Just the other day, the Little Miss’ friend came over and said, “Let’s go sliding!” No problem, I went along too even though the friend protested at first. “No adults,” she yelled. My reasonable little girl insisted that I go along after a lengthy explanation as to why an adult should be there to supervise… And that was okay…


I am pretty sure that tobogganing has never been banned in Finland, although I did hear about a story in Vantaa of a family who has made their own ice rink for years being told they couldn’t do it anymore because presented a “slip and fall” risk. Ummm, ice rinks are just that, slippery – and they have done this for years – why the ban now?

Then there is Sami Päivike who has plowed a 25km track on Kemijoki Lake near Rovaniemi. He did it for fun, so that locals can enjoy skating and other outdoor activities. His hope is that the authorities don’t put a stop to his activities and he’ll continue clearing a path on the lake to keep people happy and active. Even the BBC got in on reporting on Sami Päivike’s activities.

We should be able to enjoy outdoor activities all year round at our own risk and our municipalities should not have to walk around on eggshells in fear of being sued by its citizens.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. January 16, 2015 12:19 pm

    In England and Wales local people can register land as a town or village green on the basis of 20 years’ tobogganing, without being stopped or asking permission. Then local people have a legal right to toboggan AND the land is protected from development.

  2. Urmas permalink
    January 16, 2015 1:25 pm

    Vantaa caved in:

  3. chmeld permalink
    February 13, 2015 12:42 pm

    This is ridiculous. And honestly, do kids want to be supervised while sledging?! Maybe till kindergarten or so but after that, goodness, they are fine. Well, where we live, anyway (Switzerland), which is fairly rural. I am so glad my daughters are now adults, it seems to be getting harder and harder to be a parent – I do not envy my daughter having to deal with society becoming so overprotective and also balancing the digital world with healthy living. So far things have been simple in Switzerland but I can see the north American and German influence invading, inch by inch, and it disgusts me.


  1. Toboggan or not toboggan | CampaignerKate

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