Freedom to Skate and Play Hockey on Local Pond
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There is nothing more quintessentially Canadian than the joy of skating outside or playing hockey on a crisp winter day with friends and family!
Unfortunately, due to current by-laws and restrictions in place, residents of Markham have been subject to constant intimidation and threats of fines at the hands of City of Markham By-Law and police officers while skating on Milne Pond. At the time of this petition, the pond, which has been carefully measured in various places, is over 14 inches thick at the thinnest spot. Officers have been under orders to keep our ponds free of skaters (no matter how safe the ice) which ultimately affects the health of our community, especially our children, who do not have many other opportunities to get fresh air and exercise safely during these unprecedented times.
The rinks on Milne Pond have been created and maintained by a dedicated group of people who love their community and all those within it. Many hours have been devoted to the creation of a safe and suitable area for people of all ages to skate and play hockey in a safe way. Thickness checks are conducted over various spots frequently and regularly ensuring that safety is first and foremost.
Our goal is to see the by-laws and restrictions hindering the recreational use of the pond removed, thus paving the way for future generations to be able to skate, ski and play hockey safely without hassle on Milne Pond.
We understand that the City of Markham has concerns over liabilities surrounding possible freak accidents that could occur. Our request is that the City of Markham Council seriously considers the benefits that these rinks have achieved and make an allowance or executive order to transfer the full liability onto the individual users through signs, waivers and/or any other means necessary.
Reasons for this would be as follows:
1. These ponds provide a safe venue for walking, skating and skiing. What better way to stay socially distanced while enjoying nature than on a large, rock solid body of water!?
2. These rinks allow the children of the community to get out and exercise safely and keep up their hockey/figure skating skills. This is vital for their physical and mental health and wellbeing.
3. The experience of skating on an outdoor pond is considered a Canadian rite of passage. We (of a certain age) all have fond childhood memories of skating outdoors on a local pond. Let us not rob this generation of those experiences and thus memories.
4. The pond provides ample community bonding in building and maintaining safe community rinks for all to enjoy.
5. Limits possible crowding and unnecessary travelling to other venues by offering an alternative safe skating venue for community residents. This is key as it keeps residents within their local areas and helps to curb the spread of COVID-19.
These are only a few of the many benefits achieved by enabling the community to use this pond throughout the winter.
For the reasons outlined above, we as a community are appealing to the council, to officially take the steps required to transfer the liability from the city to the residents and users of the pond before this season ends. We also ask that moving forward in 2022, Council review possible avenues for maintaining skating on Milne Pond.
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