Calgary’s roads department is working with the province to find a way to allow unstructured play on city streets.
The matter came to the city’s Community Development committee on Thursday, where administration recommended continued cooperation with the province. The city began this review last year.
Under Alberta’s Traffic Safety Act, the spontaneous play of sports such as street hockey or pick-up basketball on city streets isn’t allowed. Participants are considered pedestrians and therefore can only be on roads to cross them.
City bylaws also prevent sports equipment on Calgary roads.
However, tickets were rarely issued. No tickets were written in 2021 and only one in 2020, despite 239 and 240 complaints in each of those years, respectively.
In Toronto, hockey and basketball are allowed under certain road classifications. Further, roadways must be 40 km/h or less and sports can only be played between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. They’re allowed to do this because of different powers to enact these types of bylaws, city admin said.
But, Calgary is working with the province on a potential fix.
“We are working with the province on amendments through the TSA – Traffic Safety Act – to be able to accommodate this type of safe play,” said city roads director Troy McLeod.
“We want to make sure that whatever changes we make, don’t impact other jurisdictions as well.”
Changing the culture
Ward 3 Coun. Jasmine Mian said she had no problem continuing provincial advocacy. She said she understood the laws need to match the culture.
“I’m just really excited to work on those more cultural elements,” she said.
Promoting play in general in important, Coun. Mian said.
“The reality is, people don’t see it modeled anymore,” Mian said.
“More and more and more adults spend time on their phone or working, and they’re not going outside and playing and so I wonder if this is less a law barrier and more a cultural barrier and very open to conversations about how this council can be a leader in helping to change that culture.”
Local activations such as mobile adventure playgrounds coming up this spring and the prior mobile skatepark strategy have been a part of the cit
“Recreation is very interested in thinking about activity outside of the walls of our facilities,” said the city’s Heather Johnson.
“Of course, there’s great opportunities in our facilities and in our partner facilities. But we are interested in being part of this long-term sort of shift, recognizing the trends that Covid has, I don’t think Covid initiated them, but Covid accelerated them or highlighted them in terms of people’s appetite to play.”
Committee approved admin recommendations. They will move to a full meeting of city council for final approval.