OHS Canada Magazine

Ontario bill seeks to secure movable soccer nets, named for teen killed

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May 10, 2023
By The Canadian Press

Health & Safety

By Allison Jones

An Ontario bill that would require movable soccer goals to be secured — named in memory of a 15-year-old boy who was killed by one — may become law later this year.

Garrett Mills, from Napanee, Ont., was playing in a park with his girlfriend and his best friend on May 12, 2017, hanging off the crossbar of a movable soccer net and doing chin-ups, when the 200-pound structure fell on top of him, fracturing his skull.

Ric Bresee, who represents the eastern Ontario riding of Hastings-Lennox and Addington for the Progressive Conservatives, told the legislature that Garrett’s girlfriend said that as they were enjoying the beautiful spring day, the teen had remarked that it was one of the best days of his life.

“Garrett was a friendly, positive young man who enjoyed making other people laugh, especially through silly puns, apparently,” Bresee said.

“Garrett’s father knows he can’t get Garrett back, but he also doesn’t want his son’s death to have been in vain.”


Bresee introduced Garrett’s Legacy Act, which would establish requirements for safe usage of movable soccer goals that are used by members of the public. It passed second reading this week and is set to go to a committee, then be brought back to the legislature for third and final reading, which Bresee said may happen in the fall.

The bill has the support of all sides of the legislature, including the government, Bresee said, which should ensure its passage. Similar pieces of legislation have been introduced before, but didn’t get passed either because of an election or a prorogation.

More than 40 deaths reported

Movable soccer goals have been blamed for more than 40 deaths across North America, mostly of children, Bresee said.

“I never knew that mobile soccer nets presented a risk, and I’m willing to bet that, like me, many parents have seen their kids play on or near soccer nets without ever stopping to think that they could tip over,” he said.

Energy Minister Todd Smith first introduced Garrett’s Legacy Act in 2017, jointly with Liberal backbencher Sophie Kiwala, when he was in Opposition and said the legislation is common sense.

“There have been jurisdictions, as MPP Bresee outlined, that have already passed legislation, including the Yukon, and many U.S. states have brought in legislation to ensure that these goals are secure, that they have the weights on them, that they are attached so they won’t tip over,” he said in the legislature.

Personal connection

Bresee said he didn’t know Garrett, but has a personal connection with his father. Dave Mills reached out to Bresee just a few months after Garrett’s death, when Bresee lost his daughter to leukemia.

“No parent should ever have to bury their child,” Bresee said. “His kind, sympathetic and empathetic words to me at the time were of tremendous comfort to me, and I will always be grateful to him for that.”

Not long before his death, Garrett asked his father what the term legacy meant, and after hearing an explanation from his father said he hoped to leave one, Bresee said.

“So, please, let’s carry this bill today and move it forward to committee and third reading so that no other parent has to bury a child because of an incident like this, because of a preventable incident like this,” he told the legislature before the bill passed second reading.

“Then Garrett will have his legacy, and Dave and Gwen Mills will know that their son helped to prevent others from suffering the way they have.”


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