Rope swings might be found dangling over bodies of water across Canada, but the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) has recently cracked down on the activity.
This summer, RMOW staff has cut down offending rope swings found on municipal land, to the dismay of some locals.
“Staff remove any publicly installed rope swings on municipal land, as part of the due diligence of reducing risk from the variables associated with rope swings,” the RMOW communications department said, in an email. “Recently the rope swing at Pine Point Park (Alpha Lake) was removed. Other areas where rope swings have been installed by the public over the years include Lost Lake Park and Blueberry Park. Challenges with publicly installed swings include rope quality, loading weights, age and UV deterioration, knot tying skill, placement of the rope, ground and in-water hazards and tree health. The RMOW would like to remind members of the public to be aware of the serious risk they are undertaking when they choose to use rope swings.”
This isn’t the first summer the RMOW has targeted rope swings. In 2013 a 21-year-old Whistler resident suffered significant head trauma while attempting to use one at the Pine Point location at Alpha Lake, leading to a crackdown at other common locations at Lost Lake and Blueberry Park.
Yet despite officials repeatedly cutting off the ropes and the branches that support them, rope swings continue to return every summer before eventually being reported and subsequently removed again.
“I know (the RMOW) are doing it to cover their ass, but I think if you’re willingly grabbing the rope there’s no blurry line of intention,” said former council candidate and avid rope swinger Steve Andrews. “They shouldn’t be afraid of liability, but if they are that’s just a sign that society isn’t as free as it should be and that it’s run by insurance companies and lawyers. That’s not how Whistler was created, it was created by people wanting to have fun and take a few risks.”
The removal of the rope swings caused ripples in local social media groups, whose members blame the organization “Mothers Against Rope Swings” (MARS), an organization named after the movement Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).
The most recent lawsuit involving a rope swing and the RMOW occurred in 2011 after an injury claim was made against the RMOW for the rope swing at Meadow Park Sports Centre. The claim was settled in 2014. Officials say the rope swing could not be certified in order to receive the required operating permit issued by Vancouver Coastal Health. It has been out of commission since July 2014.