No hopscotch, no hockey: Canada neighbourhood bans outside fun

image copyrightChrista Howard
image captionChildren play in the road at Artisan Gardens, on Vancouver Island

It is a familiar summer sight - happy children playing hopscotch in the middle of a chalk-lined road, riding bikes, and running through sprinklers.

But not in Artisan Gardens, a quiet cul-de-sac on Vancouver Island.

The Canadian neighbourhood just passed a bylaw banning all outside play from the street, including chalk drawings, skateboarding and hockey.

Parents are incensed and local media are roasting it as the neighbourhood that "declared war on fun".

Artisan Gardens is a housing development in Chemainus on Vancouver Island. The home owners share ownership of the roads in the cul-de-sac, which is managed by a council, and the bylaw was passed 15-4 on 26 June.

It reads:

"Any use of a roadway for any purpose other than access to and from strata lots and, where permitted, for parking is prohibited. Without limiting the generality of the foregoing, a roadway may not be used for play, including hockey, baseball, basketball, skateboarding, chalk artistry, bicycling or other sports and recreational activities."

The extensive prohibition has angered the four families whose 11 children are affected. Parents say it is a quiet street with little traffic and that children were always supervised.

"It's really hard to try and let your children be independent and have a bit of a longer rope when they can't go out the front door to play with their friends," said mother and neighbourhood resident Christa Howard.

It has also caused quite a stir in Canadian media, with one newspaper describing it as the neighbourhood that "declared a war on fun".

Bylaws banning activities like street hockey are pretty common in Canadian cities and housing developments, but some say the Artisan Gardens rules go too far.

Vandy Noble is the only council member who has spoken to the media, and she voted against the bylaw. She told the Vancouver Sun she thought the bylaw was passed with children's safety in mind, but it went overboard.

"There is a blind corner here, and so there had been a few near misses with cars with the kids riding their bikes," she said.

"But the bylaw is a bit harsh. We're trying to calm down the situation and reach a compromise."

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