Parents in Montreal say a winter tradition in the Villeray district is being destroyed by the city.

For years, families in the Montreal borough have used the alleyways behind homes to build makeshift ice rinks for their children. However, last week city crews covered some of the rinks with salt and gravel, rendering them unusable.

Borough mayor Anie Samson told CTV Montreal that the decision to destroy the rinks was made after a resident lodged a complaint with the city.

“He called 311 and said, ‘It’s very dangerous and it’s all with ice. If I go out, I’m going to fall down,’” Samson said.

With winter’s arrival, snow blankets the hundreds of kilometres of Montreal’s back alleyways. While the alleys are public property, they are not plowed by the city in the winter months.

Samson said she didn’t know the alleys were being used as ice rinks before they were destroyed, and more discussion will be needed to resolve the issue.

“We have to talk to everyone because the liberty of one stops when the liberty of another continues,” Samson said. “We have to work with everyone and everyone has to agree.”

However, parents have already taken the matter in their own hands. Shortly after the rinks were destroyed, new ones popped up.

Villeray mom Fanny Hebert said the city should be encouraging children to be active.

“We keep on saying our children are always in front of a screen. They’re sitting at school, they’re sitting at home, they’re not healthy,” she said. “And now we have a safe place to be and someone filed a complaint and now my kids can’t come.”

Louise Harel of the opposition Vision Montreal party says she agrees with the parents.

“We have to support this kind of initiative to keep more families in the city.”

With a report from CTV Montreal