Killer kites face ban in Oakville

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Published August 16, 2023 at 12:01 pm

Oakville has taken steps to ban a dangerous kite fighting game that has led to deaths in other parts of the world.

Town council last night (Aug. 15) approved a plan that would put an end to kite fighting competitions in both private and public spaces.

Popularized in some South Asia and South American countries, the unregulated sport often attracts large crowds at impromptu gatherings in Oakville where adult competitors seek out locations to stage the events.

Kite fighting has come under scrutiny because of the sharp string that is used in competitions where the goal is to defeat your opponent by cutting through the line and setting their kite free. The last kite in the air is considered the winner.

Local complaints stem from the string that is often left behind which can cause injury to both humans and wildlife.

Earlier this year news agencies in India reported that six people, including three children, died after having their throats cut by the glass-coated string at a large festival.

At last night’s meeting councillors were presented with a report that highlighted the dangers of kite fighting and also heard from a property owner who has to deal with the cleanup of the string when left behind.

Vanessa Warren owner of The Ranch, a riding stable on Burnhamthorpe Rd. in Oakville, said her property has been dealing with the discarded string issue for several years which, she said, has caused minor injuries to horses and riders “and far too many serious near misses.”

She said in her area the string is regularly found in trees, across driveways, and on top of buildings.

“And it is excessively hard to see until you are literally wrapped up in it,” Warren said in her delegation to council. “We’ve even recently have found it close-lined across trails at neck height and we’ve had it caught up in farm machinery on multiple occasions.”

She said she recently collected hundreds of yards of cutting string which was shown to Town bylaw enforcement officers when called to the scene. She predicted that the problem will eventually lead to death or serious injury.

“I want to be clear,” she said. “There is no safe way to do this sport. I know proponents say that they track these loose kites. They don’t because they simply cannot (as the wind can carry it off long distances).”

Although some councillors questioned the need for regulations citing the lack of public complaints, by the end of the discussion most were swayed by the potential danger that exists.

As well, due to a lack of resources, the Town will take a reactive approach to enforcement by responding to complaints rather than going out to look for offenders.

Those who are caught breaking the rules could face fines of up to $500.

Oakville will undertake a public education campaign highlighting the ban and warning of the dangers of the sport.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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