More and more cities in Quebec allow free play in the streets

Although playing in the street has been a common practice for young people for a long time, a large proportion of the population is unaware that the Highway Safety Code actually prohibits it. But this rule, although official, can be adapted, to the great pleasure of many young people who take to the streets to play tag, hopscotch or hockey.

The mayor of Mascouche and vice-president of the Union of Municipalities of Quebec (UMQ), Guillaume Tremblay, admits to having contravened the law himself. years old, and when I was young, I played hockey in the street and for us, it was nonsense not to be able to play in the street.”,”text”:”I’m 40 years old, and when I was young, I played hockey in the street and for us, it was nonsense not to be able to play in the street.”}}”>I’m 40 years old, and when I was young I played hockey in the street and for us it was nonsense not to be able to play in the street.

The ban on playing in the street was almost always in place, but the police turned a blind eye and children were allowed to play in the street.he specifies.

If, in practice, the police often show tolerance, a simple complaint from a neighbor can change everything.

According to articles 499 and 500 of the Quebec Highway Safety Code, no person may, without being legally authorized to do so, occupy the roadway, the shoulder, another part of the right-of-way or the approaches to a public road in a manner to obstruct the movement of road vehicles on this road or access to such a road, under penalty of a fine.

Since 2017, however, a law adopted by Quebec allows cities to evade this ban, provided that they adopt regulations with strict and well-defined criteria. It is in this spirit that the cities of Mascouche and Saint-Lambert decided to lift this ban last week.

The mayor of Mascouche emphasizes that the average age in Mascouche, which is quite young, and the strong presence of young families are factors that influenced the establishment of this regulation.

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The mayor of Mascouche and vice-president of the Union of Municipalities of Quebec, Guillaume Tremblay. (Archive photo)

Photo: Facebook / Page of Guillaume Tremblay – Mayor of Mascouche

Well-defined criteria

In Mascouche, we decided that [le jeu libre est toléré] in compliant situations, for example, when the child is with a responsible person […] do not play in curves or be at a reasonable distance from parked vehiclesexplains the mayor, Guillaume Tremblay.

In Saint-Lambert, Mayor Pascale Mongrain maintains that the city council did not want send a signal where at any time, a ticket can be given by the police to people playing freely in the street.

This is not the kind of society we want in our city, and it goes against the values ​​of our citizens and our community.

A quote from Pascale Mongrain, mayor of Saint-Lambert

Thus, the city adopted a regulation to allow free play for children, provided they play in residential areas where the speed limit is 30 km/h or less.

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The streets of Saint-Lambert were considered suitable for the adoption of a by-law on the subject, according to its mayor.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Aurélie Girard

We have a municipal council very inclined to encourage active living, sport and play, so for us it was obvious to modify our road traffic regulations to allow play, she maintains. I raised my children in Saint-Lambert and they played in the street, like all the neighbors, like everyone. It’s a city where everyone has always played in the street.

Mascouche and Saint-Lambert are not the first municipalities in Quebec to adopt regulations of this type since 2017.

Two years ago, Gatineau became the first city to authorize free play on its streets. Limbour district councilor Louis Sabourin argued at the time that a lot of work had been done to determine which streets were safe and unsafe for street gambling. Gatineau has even developed an interactive map to find out which streets have been deemed safe for the game.

A trend that is spreading

Other cities in Quebec wish to adopt regulations allowing the practice of free play on public roads. This is the case in Rivière-du-Loup, where an official complaint made last April prompted the city to send an officer to force children to put away their hockey balls, sticks and nets.

The family in question, who did not know of the existence of this regulation, was surprised and frustrated by the intervention.

The City has since indicated its intention to modify its regulations to allow free play.

With information from Aurélie Girard

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