Quebec snow fort survives, but war on winter fun continues

iStockphoto, Getty Images

In a winter full of bureaucratic Scrooges, it’s encouraging to see at least one happy ending.

Neighbours and even a few city officials helped the Lefebvre family of Beaconsfield, Que., relocate their fancy snow fort on Saturday after the city ordered it demolished.

The elaborate fort, decked out with snow couches, coffee tables, and Christmas trees, was built partially on municipal land and presented a safety hazard, according to city officials.

"The concern is very simple: safety," Mayor Georges Bourelle said. "The fort was built essentially right on the edge of the street. It's very, very dangerous for snowplows to go by and clean the street."

Dad and fort-builder Yann Lefebvre initially argued with city, but decided to relent last week and simply move the fort, unfortunately depriving us of an inspirational standoff with icy walls and snowballs against city snowplows. It’d make a good holiday movie too.

Lefebvre, who wanted to build “the fort to end all forts” for his kids, threw a rebuilding party on Saturday, and said the Bourelle was invited. The mayor didn’t show, but two city councillors were among the 25 or so people who helped out.

"The fort is actually going to end up being cooler than ever," said Lefebvre’s wife Vanessa Rice.

So the lucky Lefebvre kids get to keep their fort, but their story is unfortunately unusual. All across Canada, wintertime killjoys have been launching complaints against backyard skating rinks and other wintertime fun.

Last month, a Sherbrooke, Que., man had to take down his backyard rink after a neighbour complained that it caused him “visual harm.” Yes, that’s apparently a legitimate complaint.

Last week, Ajax Ont., ordered resident Karen Callery to take down her little front yard rink or face a $25,000 fine.

Callery says her rink was above-board in terms of safety and municipal bylaws, claiming she even consulted the city about it. But an anonymous complaint was enough to ice her mini-arena. In an act of hilarious defiance, Callery said she plans to flood the rink on the last possible day before removing the boards, then see how long it takes for the ice to melt.

A Cornwall, Ont., rink recently got a reprieve after the city demanded the boards come down since they violated road bylaws. Neighbours helped reconstruct it, but the family has to relocate it next year

Tobogganing is rapidly becoming taboo as well, as more cities impose bylaws and regulations to limit or ban it due to liability and injury risk.

Skating is on the hit list as well. In Toronto, liability-wary officials banned skating on High Park's Grenadier Pond, but surreptitious skaters are defying the order anyway.

Of course, skating and sledding can present a legitimate threat to life and limb — especially a waxed sled — but so can any sport. Where does it all end? Stay tuned for more updates as the war on winter fun continues.

Find a Lawyer