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Response to Jim Hart Re: Helmets

01-Feb-2014 [9470]

Date: Sat, Feb 1, 2014

Subject: Your response letter re (1) helmet rules for pleasure-skating

To: Jim Hart, General Manager, Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation

Dear Mr.Hart,

It would be best to separate the two helmet issues that I have recently analyzed. In reference to the City of Toronto's requirement for children under six to wear CSA-certified hockey helmets for pleasure-skating, you wrote that "numerous municipalities adhere to the national standard."

The City of Toronto helmet policy for little kids who are pleasure-skating at outdoor rinks is not a national standard. Moreover, it is an anomaly in Canada -- almost no outdoor rinks in Canadian cities have this rule. Of the 9 cities I checked with, comprising 1926 outdoor rinks, only the City of Toronto (51 outdoor rinks), Mississauga (3) and Halifax (1) require anyone to wear a helmet for outdoor pleasure-skating. That means, 55 outdoor rinks require it and 1871 (supervised and unsupervised) do not. Harbourfront, the most popular pleasure-skating rink in Toronto, does not require it either.

You can find the breakdown in the February newsletter:

Moreover, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) offers a definition of hockey helmets that throws some light on this question. Their website says that hockey helmets are designated as “Team sport helmets...designed to protect against multiple head impacts typically occurring in the sport (e.g., ball, puck, or stick impacts; player contact; etc.), and, generally, can continue to be used after such impacts.” There is no certified pleasure-skating helmet category in either Canada or the U.S., so the CPSC recommends certified bike helmets for pleasure-skating.

Requiring families to buy hockey helmets for pleasure-skating, in addition to the bike helmets most families already have, imposes an unwarranted economic hardship, as well as a disincentive for penalized families to return to the rinks. We've seen this too often -- that's why we're trying to bring it to your attention.

Your letter also refers to "research and information" backing up the City of Toronto policy. I have asked for such documentation from rink management across the country, including from your staff, and have not been sent any. At a national child-and-youth injury conference last November in Montreal, the speakers on the subject said there is almost no data. If your staff have such documentation, could they please send it?

Your letter ends with the assurance that staff will review my information. Could you be more specific?

Jutta Mason