Alberta Policy Coalition for Cancer Prevention (APCCP)

Alberta Policy Coalition for Cancer Prevention (APCCP)

June 17, 2011 09:00 ET

Play On! Calgarians Work Around City Bylaw to Host Hockey Tournament

CALGARY, ALBERTA--(Marketwire - June 17, 2011) - Health experts are applauding Calgarians for bringing PlayON!-Canada's largest street hockey tournament to Calgary on June 18th-19th.

"Hockey is one of Canada's greatest pastimes" says Dr. Kim Raine, Co-Director of the Alberta Policy Coalition for Cancer Prevention (APCCP). "This tournament not only encourages residents of all ages and skill levels to get out and be physically active, it also showcases the unique opportunity communities can have in supporting the health of citizens" commented Dr. Raine.

By hosting PlayOn! at the Deerfoot Mall, a privately owned property, the tournament organizers are able to work around an existing street city bylaw to allow an expected 3000 players to participate in the event. In the City of Calgary, this type of physical activity is restricted by a bylaw that forbids the use of sporting equipment - hockey nets, basketball nets, and skateboard ramps - on the street.

While these kinds of bylaws are intended to maintain the safety of citizens, they make it difficult for kids and young adults to find open spaces where they can be active outdoors without the threat of being fined.

Calgary is not alone in having such a bylaw. According to a recent survey, 96% of 24 major municipalities surveyed in Canada were found to have a community level policy that restrict physical activities like street hockey, cycling, and roller-skating on the streets and sidewalks (1).

The APCCP urges local governments, including the City of Calgary to change policies that may create barriers to being active. "Cities are uniquely positioned to encourage Albertans to be physically active. A careful review of existing bylaws could result in more opportunities for safe and unstructured recreation in Calgary" noted Raine.

According to the 2011 Active Healthy Kids Canada Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth, Canadian youth are active a mere 14 minutes between 3-6 p.m. If restrictive bylaws were revised, kids in Calgary could use this time to play road hockey and other informal recreational activities in their own local neighborhoods (2). In 2008, the community of Kingston, Ontario amended their street hockey bylaw to allow play on residential streets where the speed limit is less than 50 km/h, between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m.

Dr. Donald Voaklander, Director for the Alberta Center for Injury Control & Research (ACICR) agrees with this approach. "Making amendments to bylaws in support of physical activity is reasonable in residential areas where traffic patterns are significantly lower. For example, playing street hockey in cul-de-sacs, driveways, back lanes or alleys is less of a safety risk than playing near a busy street with lots of traffic" says Dr. Voaklander.

Dr. Richard Musto, Calgary's Medical Officer of Health for Alberta Health Services, is encouraged by the spirit Calgarians have shown for PlayOn!, and by the City of Calgary's overall vision to engage residents in safe physical activity. The City has one of the most extensive regional pathway systems in North America with over 700 kms of multi-use pathways where people can walk, run, cycle, rollerblade or walk their dog, and recently revealed a $28-million cycling strategy that will upgrade and expand the city's bikeway system.

"PlayOn! is a terrific example of Calgarians from tykes to old-timers getting active and enjoying our national sport in a safe and fun way. The enthusiasm of citizens, action by coalitions and other community groups, plus the continuing involvement of the City are among the ingredients needed to make it easier for us to enjoy an active and healthy lifestyle" commented Musto.

Edmonton and Fort McMurray are among the other 17 Canadian cities participating in the event.

Available spokespersons:

Dr. Kim Raine, Professor at the University of Alberta and Co-Director of the Alberta Policy Coalition for Cancer Prevention (APCCP)

Dr. Donald Voaklander, Director of the Alberta Center for Injury Control and Research (ACICR)

Dr. Richard Musto, Medical Officer of Health, Calgary and Area Zone, Alberta Health Services

Background Documents:

Please see the APCCP Issue Brief titled "Designing Communities to Support Active Living: Using Municipal Bylaws to Promote Health, and "Guidelines for Safe Street Hockey" on our website

http://www.abpolicycoalitionforprevention.ca/press-room.html

References:

(1) Active Healthy Kids Canada. Healthy habits start earlier than you think. The Active Healthy Kids Canada Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth. Toronto, ON: Active Healthy Kids Canada; 2010.

(2) Active Healthy Kids Canada. Don't let this be the most physical activity our kids get after school. The Active Healthy Kids Canada 2011 Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth. Toronto, ON: Active Healthy Kids Canada; 2011.

The APCCP represents a broad range of community organizations, practitioners, policy-makers and researchers who have come together to coordinate efforts, generate evidence, and advocate for policy change in order to reduce cancer and other chronic diseases in Alberta.

Visit the APCCP website: www.abpolicycoalitionforprevention.ca

Contact Information

  • To arrange an interview contact:
    Alberta Policy Coalition for Cancer Prevention
    Cristabel Sosa Hernandez
    780-492-0493

    Alberta Policy Coalition for Cancer Prevention
    Melissa Visconti
    780-492-0493
    www.abpolicycoalitionforprevention.ca