Free-Range Kids

Government Orders Family to Dismantle Homemade Skating Rink


Anthony Arrigo

What could be more Canadian than kids playing hockey? And what could be more ominous than the authorities ordering a family to dismantle the skating rink it created in its front yard?

That's what's happening in Cornwall, Ontario. The modest ice rink, a magnet for local kids, was built on private property with a simple frame of wooden boards. Ah! But the frame seems to have broken a "road allowance bylaw." And naturally, a neighbor complained.

I'm sure it had nothing to do with the yelps of happy kids playing next door. No, it was a safety violation, don't you see? (Like everything else in the world.) According to CTV News:

Cornwall Mayor Leslie O'Shaughnessy said the boards infringed on land that could contain gas, phone and high-voltage electrical lines.

"This is a bylaw that is in effect in every municipality," O'Shaughnessy said. "It is there for public safety and it needs to be enforced."

This was the second year the Vincent family had built the hockey rink.

City officials said the family could have an ice rink on their front lawn, just not the wooden border. But the Vincents said that without the border, the ice would wash down their sloping lawn if it rained.


Apparently rain is not the government's problem. Neither is keeping kids active, slim, and speedy. Indoors they will go—there is plenty of hockey on TV, kids. And at last Canadians can become like their neighbors to the south: inert.

NEXT: NYPD Cop Shot in Bronx Not Happy Mayor Visited Him in Hospital. That's OK.

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  1. What could be more Canadian than kids playing hockey?

    Watching their American friends drink apple juice out of a kid-size Stanley Cup?

    1. “What could be more Canadian than kids playing hockey?”


      1. Poutine.

        1. beaver pelts.

  2. Those damn parents are frontierspeople and, thusly, require some O’Donnelling from the local law to keep the dangerous and evil Wild West at bay.

  3. That doesn’t even make sense. How is having some boards over electrical or gas lines more dangerous than ice without boards?

    1. It’s probably an access issue. The bylaws are likely there to prevent permanent structures. It’s a bit ridiculous to apply them to hockey boards, but I suspect that as written, the boards are considered “structures”.

      1. I doubt it. But I bet the RAW don’t specifically exempt some boards nailed together so the fethers in the city council can twist the rules to suit themselves.

        As far as their concerned – if I’m wrong then take it to court, the taxpayers are covering our bills anyway.

  4. Cornwall Mayor Leslie O’Shaughnessy said the boards infringed on land that could contain gas, phone and high-voltage electrical lines.

    Could contain? Did it actually contain any of those things (not that it should probably matter)?

    1. Seriously. Call dig safe.

      And I can’t see how in a Canadian winter a little bit more ice on top of some buried lines makes any difference at all.

      1. If the cable/gas/power company needs to do something to one of the lines, having an ice rink built on top of them would be rather inconvenient.

        1. In the winter, the ground is pretty damn solid. I don’t think a few more inches of ice on top is going to slow down an excavator much.

          1. It’s not about the technical difficulty, it’s about the ruthlessness to just casually destroy someone else’s property.

            From a libertarian standpoint, this would be bettered handled via easements than by a government ordinance, but I doubt the home owner would be any happier with private work crews taking his rink apart than he would with the city work crews.

            1. So, to prevent the homeowners from *possibly* getting upset if the city *might* need to access something that *may* be under the ice – you’re all for not letting them put the thing up in the first place?

              1. No, as I said, it would be better handled via an easement, in which case the rights of the utility company would be explictly spelled out in the easement.

                e.g. back when I was living in a home with a transformer box on the property, the easement specifically spelled out a specifically sized cube of space around the box that was required to be kept open.

  5. The government is on thin ice here. They can’t afford to make any slips. Maybe they’ll be able to skate on by to their goal, but the net benefit is hard to see. But they’ll probably stick to their plan.

    1. [Narrows gaze]

    2. Shut the puck up.

  6. OMG the comments @ that story are epic nanny-frothing =

    d hart
    Jan. 6, 2015

    Put it in the backyard where it belongs . This is ridiculous news .

    Jan. 6, 2015

    @Boo: Backyard exactly. Front lawn, showing off. Seriously though, how is this news? Everyone goes to the media these days, for any reason. I always see my neighbour’s kids riding their bikes without helmets. Irresponsible parents. If I call in the by-laws, next headline on the news will be: “neighbour complains, kids cannot ride their bike”

    Sara in Vancouver
    Jan. 6, 2015

    Helmuts reduce brain injuries by 85%, that still leaves 15% of the 50,000 annually. That leaves 7,500 serious head injuries every year in Canada. This is beyond absurd, You can not build an ice rink in your front yard with a downward slope. It’s a safety hazard

    Jan. 6, 2015

    The rink could still have been standing if the family took a little time to insure it was properly set back. No one else is to blame but them and shame on the press for trying to vilify the City of Cornwall”


    I’d rank the sentiment about 50/50, pro-city/pro-rink

    which i’d guess is pretty good for Canada money. If it weren’t HOCKEY, they’d be all for the state demolishing whatever it was.

    1. I always see my neighbour’s kids riding their bikes without helmets. Irresponsible parents.

      And the solution is to mention it to the parents, not to call the city, if you really feel you must step into it.

      I’m reminded of this great joke, er, I’m sorry, “position paper”:

      Little Tony was sitting on a park bench munching
      on one candy bar after another.
      After the 6th candy bar, a man on the bench across from him said,
      “Son, you know eating all that candy isn’t good for you.
      It will give you acne, rot your teeth, and make you fat.”

      Little Tony replied, “My grandfather lived to be 107 years old.”

      The man asked, “Did your grandfather eat 6 candy bars at a time?”

      Little Tony answered, “No, he minded his own fucking business.”

    2. You can not build an ice rink in your front yard with a downward slope.

      Holy shit. This guy does not understand how water works.

    3. You can not build an ice rink in your front yard with a downward slope. It’s a safety hazard

      Heh, someone doesn’t know how water works.

    4. “Wait until the Human Rights Council hears about this!” A precursor to absolute progtard stupidity and asinine demands. Yes Canada has many pious, busy body, Fiensteins as well

  7. They should just handle it the way the power company here handles, say, trees growing into their easement. Don’t involve the city, they just send you a warning letter, and if you don’t do anything about it you come home one day to find your trees been cut back invisible wall style and you’ve gotten a bill for the cost of having your landscape mangled.

  8. Stupid family! Don’t you no fun is not allowed in this country? If you want to have fun then move to one of the un-free countries. Here you are completely free to NOT have fun.

    1. I hear that North Korea is THE place for ice skating.

  9. Crap. I missed the Canada part, just assumed it was Ontario, California. No biggie; when it comes to liberty Canada and California share the same mindset.

  10. This…is a little iffy. the utility must have access to lines and stuff.

    1. The have access.

      Its a small 3 foot high retaining wall – that could probably be removed once the water freezes but is left in place in case the thing needs topping off.

      Its basically some 2×4’s driven into the ground and plywood nailed to it.

      Take less than 15 minutes to cut a section out if you needed to.

      1. 3″ sounds about right: Boards on NHL rinks are 3.5″. I’d be tempted to make the boards higher if older kids were playing there, since who’s going to spring for plexiglass on top of the dashers?

        Kevin R
        (World’s Worst Pond Hockey Goalie who ever played in skates.)

  11. Civil disobedience is needed. The neighborhood kids should egg the complaining neighbor’s house every night for the next year. Maybe break some windows on very cold nights.

  12. Dude that looks like its gonna be good man.

  13. Canada has 3 major parties, plus the Goonies…I mean greens, and all are statist progtarda, the Conservatives being the least so.
    Nanny staters taking rinks away (among thousands of other things) then complaining about docile, obese, and lazy children seems pretty Canadian to me.

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