An occupier of land that opens the land up for recreational use free of charge owes a lesser duty of care than other occupiers of land. That was the judgment of the Ontario Court of Appeal in Schneider v. St. Clair Region Conservation Authority.
Angela Schneider was cross-country skiing with her family on a trail at Coldstream Park. At some point, she left the trail and followed an alternate set of ski tracks. Along that path, she struck her ski on a six inch concrete wall hidden below the snow. The impact caused Ms. Schneider to fall and fracture three bones in her right ankle.
Ms. Schneider sued the St. Clair Region Conservation Authority. At trial, the judge concluded that the Authority fell below the standard of reasonable care required by the Occupiers’ Liability Act. However the Court of Appeal held that the trial judge applied the wrong standard of care. The correct standard to which a recreational trail owner is held is “to not create a danger with the deliberate intent of doing harm or damage to the person or his or her property and to not act with reckless disregard of the presence of the person or his or her property.” Continue reading