UCP MLA Wayne Drysdale pushing for stricter regulation of trampoline parks

Grande Prairie-Wapiti MLA Wayne Drysdale says while he believes Alberta’s NDP government is taking steps to make trampoline parks more safe, he wants to continue pressing for tougher regulations of the facilities to make sure the issue doesn’t go by the wayside.

On Friday, the United Conservative Party member told Global News a friend’s heartbreaking story about a trampoline mishap many years ago as well as recent high-profile tragedies are spurring him on to push for changes.

“It’s kind of growing, these trampoline park facilities are fairly new and you know, trampolines have been around in the backyard for quite a while but these are becoming more popular so when you get that kind of use, I just think there should be some kind of regulations and maintenance procedures,” he said.

“I have a close friend that… their sister died — broke her neck on a trampoline — so, you know, it’s kind of personal.”

The former Progressive Conservative cabinet minister said he thinks better first aid training and procedures are needed for when people are hurt at trampoline parks and they need to be more closely monitored and inspected. He also thinks the facilities’ designs need more guidelines.

“When it comes to the padding and the foam and the depth and the materials and all that, I mean I’m not an expert, but there’s got to be some minimum standards and regulations,” he said, adding he believes the facilities try to make them safe but need inspections to ensure they are.

In just the first few weeks of 2018, trampoline parks have been making headlines in Western Canada. Last week, a Sherwood Park teen revealed he was seeking $15.4 million through a lawsuit after he broke his neck doing a front flip into a foam pit at Jump Park Trampoline.

The lawsuit shows Landon Smith is seeking $15 million for loss of income, loss of earning capacity and cost of care. Another $400,000 is being sought for pain and suffering. Smith’s parents are also each seeking $350,000.

READ MORE: Alberta man sues trampoline park for $15M after breaking neck

Watch below: A Sherwood Park family is suing a local trampoline park for more than $17 million. It comes after a 19-year-old suffered a spinal cord injury that paralyzed him from the chest down. Quinn Ohler filed this report on Jan. 17, 2018.

In a statement of defence filed with the court, Jump Park Trampoline denies any wrongdoing and said Smith signed a waiver. It also disputes some elements of Smith’s version of events.

Over the weekend, police in B.C. confirmed RCMP have confirmed a 46-year-old Victoria man died after allegedly performing “a series of acrobatic manoeuvres” at the privately-run “Extreme Air” trampoline park in Richmond.

READ MORE: 46-year-old Victoria dad dies at Richmond trampoline park

Drysdale told Global News he has met with Health Minister Sarah Hoffman to discuss his concerns and that she’s been receptive and supportive.

“I think she’s taking it seriously and looking into it,” he said. “I think they’re in the process of looking at this… they’re just working on it right now.”

Data collected by Alberta Health Services shows Albertans have made 8,001 trampoline-related visits to emergency departments and urgent-care centres between April 1, 2014 and March 31, 2017. That works out to an average of 222 per month. A closer look at visits just between November to April over those three years shows the average number of visits shoots up to 469 per month.

While the data doesn’t specify how many visits stem from indoor incidents versus outdoors, an official with the University of Alberta’s Injury Prevention Centre said they assumed most of these injuries happened indoors during those months because of how cold Alberta gets in the winter.

“I think it’s better to avoid them,” said Kathy Belton, associate director of the University of Alberta’s Injury Prevention Centre. “I think the only safe place to use a trampoline would be in a gymnastics class with professionals showing you how to use it and how to use it safely.

“One of the biggest issues I have with trampoline parks is that the people that are going there don’t necessarily have the knowledge and skills to use them safely,” she added. “The foam pits and stuff like that are just a recipe for disaster if you have more than one person in them and if the person is not using them correctly.”

Belton added there’s a fine line between finding fun ways to be active and putting yourself at risk.

-With files from Jon Azpiri and Quinn Ohler

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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