Tree, kids and safety 0
Social media was abuzz last week over Haliburton’s “diving tree” in Head Lake Park.
The newspaper’s Facebook account and website were inundated with comments about the fate of a large willow, which hangs over the Drag River.
Children have been using this tree for decades as a jumping point into the water on hot summer days and lately it’s come to Dysart council’s attention that it might not be the safest diving board.
During council’s last meeting, members considered cutting the tree down altogether and then last Friday, during the Arts and Crafts Festival, a rumour began circulating it would be removed that night.
You can imagine the upset.
According to Dysart’s parks and recreation director, several options are being considered for the tree, including a sleeve to prevent kids from scaling the trunk. If deterrents don’t work, it will likely be removed.
It’s not a popular solution, but restricting access to the tree may be the only way forward.
While much of the conversation around the tree has centred on the dichotomy of kids being kids versus the anti-fun, adult world of law suits and overbearing restrictions, there is another dimension that hasn’t been truly fleshed out.
Because the limbs of the tree and the rope were removed to limit its use, children are now climbing to the top to jump.
It’s a drop of at least 30 feet into a rather shallow pool of water.
People have been seriously injured, paralyzed and killed from drops not nearly so high.
Overwhelmingly, the online audience has responded to the prospect of keeping kids off the tree with a resounding “no.”
An Echo poll online garnered 122 votes with 68 per cent saying the tree should remain standing.
“Let the kids have fun. If they get hurt it’s all part of life,” one commenter wrote. “Kids are kids, we need not legislate them into a life even more consumed by indoor, sedentary activities,” another wrote.
Points well taken in a world where rules often surpass their intended purpose and everyone’s afraid of getting sued.
But there has to be a middle ground.
The municipality is on the right path if it seeks to limit access to the tree, given it no longer has low-lying branches. Perhaps something safer and closer to the water could be erected, or a barrier created to stop children from reaching the tree’s perilously high crown.
Kids should indeed be kids, but as a community we also need to protect them.