New website!

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This new website is the culmination of many months of work by our website team. We hope you will find it to be a useful resource. We intend it to be much easier to navigate and for it to contain useful information for our stakeholders—climbers, land managers, and the community in general.

While upgrading to the new website, we seem to have inadvertently sent out notification emails about each of the changes that went into the website. We apologize for this unfortunate glitch.

Old Baldy Parking Update

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The OAC has been in contact with the Grey Sauble Conservation Authority (GSCA) regarding parking at Old Baldy Conservation Area. The GSCA has confirmed the status of parking at Old Baldy Conservation Area. The parking area itself is on GSCA land while the access trail is located on an easement (right of way) and does not trespass on private land.

Please follow these rules:

  • Park in the Conservation Area parking lot.
  • Do NOT park on the laneway leading to the parking lot entrance.
  • Do not leave the trail between the parking lot and Old Baldy.
  • Be on best behaviour.
  • Be stewards of the area.
  • Maintain good relations with all landowners and direct them to the Grey Sauble Conservation Authority if asked any questions.

Incident at Devil’s Glen

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On Sunday October 8th 2017, an individual was seriously injured in a climbing related incident at Devil’s Glen Provincial Park. The rescue response was led by local Emergency Medical Services, who arrived on the scene promptly. Several climbing parties guided the response team to the victim and helped clear debris, facilitating and improving evacuation conditions for the response team and the injured climber.

Evacuations from most Ontario climbing areas, including Devil’s Glen, are always complicated endeavours. Climbers must recognize that evacuations are difficult and often lengthy. Therefore climbers must also recognize the importance of their personal and party safety and take appropriate precautions while climbing in Ontario. Helping our fellow climbers in time of need is a deeply ingrained part of our climbing culture. We ask all climbers to join us in wishing the best possible outcome for the injured climber.

The Ontario Access Coalition extends a sincere thank you to all Emergency Medical Services and individuals who took part in the successful evacuation. As representatives of the Ontario climbing community, the Ontario Access Coalition looks forward to working with Emergency Response Services, land managers and local communities to facilitate continued improvement of evacuations and high angle rescue scenarios.

Submit your photos for the 2018 OAC Crags Calendar

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Dear amateur and professional photographers, have you ever wanted to see your work published and hung on walls? We are putting together our annual Ontario Crags calendar and we need your help! Please consider donating a photo to help raise awareness and funds in support of the Ontario Access Coalition.

Mike Penney on “The Big Boss” at the Swamp Photo by Dennis Barnes

The Ontario Crags calendar aims to celebrate and highlight the wide variety of climbing that Ontario has to offer. We want to showcase everything from as many different crags and seasons as possible — ICE, SPORT, TRAD and BOULDERING are all honoured here. Valid photo submissions must have LANDSCAPE orientation (i.e. horizontal), and be of climbers at Ontario crags only (of course!).
Please send your best shots to Bonnie at bonniedb@hotmail.com by THURSDAY, OCTOBER 5th for a chance to have your photo featured and credited in the calendar! Chosen entrants will get a free copy of the 2018 calendar as well as a credit complete with your name and website.

Thanks in advance for your efforts to support the OAC!

Leslie Timms on “You’ve Been Hibbed” at Lion’s Head Photo by Colin Field

Summer 2017 Newsletter

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In this Summer 2017 episode of the OAC newsletter:

  1. Beaver Valley Climbing Festival Recap and Feedback
  2. OAC Annual General Meeting Highlights
  3. Sharing Knowledge: Alpinist magazine discusses conservation and climbing on the Niagara Escarpment.

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BVCF Recap and Feedback

On July 14-16, the 5th annual Beaver Valley Climbing Festival saw almost 300 climbers and community members come out to Roy Rob Dog Farm in our beautiful Beaver Valley. Climbers and friends of all abilities and experience took part in clinics, enjoyed good food, great company, and awesome live music. We are already anticipating the 2018 Beaver Valley Climbing Festival.

Following the festival, we sent out an email requesting suggestions on how we can improve for next year. Thank you to all who took the time and provided feedback to the event organizers. Your feedback will directly help us improve next year’s BVCF. Here are some of the ways in which next year’s BVCF will be better than this year’s.

Bathrooms. In the past, our land use agreement put the responsibility on the farm’s owner to secure toilet rentals. We have renegotiated the agreement so that, in the future, the OAC will be responsible for toilet rentals. We will be sure to have the appropriate amount of units.
Space. It is awesome to see the BVCF continue to grow year after year. Given this growth, we will expand the campsite next year, including a separate area for families. This way, we can accommodate everyone and continue to share our love of climbing.

Thanks to everyone that came out. We look forward to seeing you next year! And once again, thanks to our headline sponsors: Boulderz Climbing Centre, True North Climbing, Arc’Teryx; title sponsors: Climber’s Rock, The Junction Climbing Centre; and major sponsors: The Alpine Club of Canada, On The Rocks Climbing, Free Spirit Tours, One Axe Pursuits, Ontario Resoles, Overhang Adventures. We couldn’t have done it without you!

OAC AGM Highlights

The OAC board of directors hosted an Annual General Meeting on June 26th 2017 at True North Climbing. The AGM is a once-a-year meeting in which members can come out, hear about the OAC’s updates, and take part in the discussions that shape the OAC. Our post summarizes the discussions: https://www.ontarioaccesscoalition.com/2017/07/20/qa-from-the-2017-oac-annual-general-meeting/

We hope to see you at next year’s AGM, scheduled for June 2018.

Conservation and Climbing on The Niagara Escarpment (via Alpinist magazine)

As climbers, we are lucky to explore beautiful yet inaccessible places. Our privileged position often inspires a feeling of responsibility towards these places and the wildlife that they harbour. We have the power to go beyond simply enjoying these places—we can act as stewards and help preserve them.

Unfortunately, our actions may have negative impacts on the places that we love, even if these impacts may be unintentional. As climbers, it is our responsibility to remain informed on how to best enjoy the crags we frequent, and applying best practices can minimize our impact on the environment.

We recommend this long-form reporting from Alpinist magazine: http://www.alpinist.com/doc/web17c/wfeature-a58-wired-refuge.
It can help you make more informed decisions and help you understand the complexity that surrounds climbing on the Niagara Escarpment. We invite you to read the article, share it with your fellow climbers, and discuss.

Q&A from the 2017 OAC Annual General Meeting

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Every year, the Ontario Access Coalition holds an Annual General Meeting. We appreciate True North’s support in hosting us this past June 26th, 2017. The short formal portion of the meeting allows OAC members to elect Directors for the coming year (as legally mandated). Afterwards, the AGM gives us the opportunity to connect with the membership in a loosely structured Q&A discussion session.

Discussions during the Q&A included:
* the then-upcoming Beaver Valley Climbing Festival (the Alpine Club of Canada Toronto Section offered support);
* updates on Metcalfe restrooms and improvements at Devil’s Glen;
* offers to improve the social media and general PR presence (including an Instagram account);
* how to better disseminate the gym to crag brochures (in every guidebook & via Conservation Halton);
* discussion of Conservation Halton’s strong support for climbing and the advisability of replacing old pins with bolts;
* questions about Algonquin Highlands (James Cooper Trail, Kushog) and the Hailburton Highlands Water Trails;
* questions about how to get involved (mail
info@ontarioaccesscoalition.com) and outreach efforts;
* questions about the financials (will be lightly edited to break down outgoing donations (SO Ice Fest, Conservation Halton ice climbing signs).

Thanks to those who came out to the meeting!

2017 AGM materials (minutes, access sends, survey results, financials)

Q&A from the 2017 OAC Annual General Meeting

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Every year, the Ontario Access Coalition holds an Annual General Meeting. We appreciate True North’s support in hosting us this past June 26th, 2017. The short formal portion of the meeting allows OAC members to elect Directors for the coming year (as legally mandated). Afterwards, the AGM gives us the opportunity to connect with the membership in a loosely structured Q&A discussion session.

Discussions during the Q&A included:
* the then-upcoming Beaver Valley Climbing Festival (the Alpine Club of Canada Toronto Section offered support);
* updates on Metcalfe restrooms and improvements at Devil’s Glen;
* offers to improve the social media and general PR presence (including an Instagram account);
* how to better disseminate the gym to crag brochures (in every guidebook & via Conservation Halton);
* discussion of Conservation Halton’s strong support for climbing and the advisability of replacing old pins with bolts;
* questions about Algonquin Highlands (James Cooper Trail, Kushog) and the Hailburton Highlands Water Trails;
* questions about how to get involved (mail
info@ontarioaccesscoalition.com) and outreach efforts;
* questions about the financials (will be lightly edited to break down outgoing donations (SO Ice Fest, Conservation Halton ice climbing signs).

Thanks to those who came out to the meeting!

2017 AGM materials (minutes, access sends, survey results, financials)

Registration for 2017 Beaver Valley Climbing Festival now open!

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Preparations for the 2017 Beaver Valley Climbing Festival are well underway. Join the OAC and over 200 fellow climbers on July 14-16 for a weekend of climbing, camping, supper and entertainment at the Rob Roy Dogsled Farm!

Register for the Beaver Valley Climbing Festival

Thanks to our headline sponsors Boulderz, True North, and Arc’teryx! Members of Boulderz, True North, and Climber’s Rock get 10% off their festival tickets.

boulderz True NorthArc'teryx

as well as our title sponsor Climber’s Rock!


Niagara Glen parking clarification

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We’ve received this response from Niagara Glen park staff, in response to a question about Niagara Glen parking.

Every annual parking pass, including the one that comes with the Bouldering Permit, purchased for the Niagara Glen can have up to 2 license plates from the same household. These however, cannot be purchased at the machines, as they only accept the one plate. Individuals can buy the annual parking passes for 2 plates at the Butterfly Parking Booth with one of the attendants or from the Falls Parking office. Also note, since the change to the policy that permits up to 2 plates was only introduced on Jan 1, 2017, annual parking passes purchased prior to this policy change would only be eligible for the 1 licence plate.

[If you have] a valid bouldering permit from October 2016, [your] bouldering permit is still valid. By presenting this bouldering permit at the Butterfly Conservatory, [you] should [receive] a parking pass valid until the current bouldering permit expires.

2017 Niagara Escarpment Plan and Climbing Access

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by Patrick Lam, on behalf of the OAC Board

Following community consultations, the Ontario government has released the final version of the Niagara Escarpment Plan. Because much of Southern Ontario climbing occurs on the Niagara Escarpment, and because the Niagara Escarpment Commission has the power to control the use of the Escarpment (even on private land), the Plan is tremendously significant to Ontario climbers. The final version of the Plan incorporates feedback from the climbing community. Thank you for your help; together, we helped preserve access to Ontario climbing!

Impact of the new Plan

The Ontario Access Coalition does not expect immediate changes to climbing access as a result of the new Plan. As always, climbing access is tenuous and may be threatened by impacts by climbers and other visitors. Demonstrating stewardship and following Leave No Trace principles can help position climbers as a net positive for our open spaces.

More specifically, here’s what the Plan says about climbing. Rock climbing is now explicitly permitted in parks and open spaces where a climbing management plan exists. Some of our strongest partners are conservation authorities (CAs). Our understanding is that, in collaboration with the Ontario Access Coalition, CAs have developed plans for Niagara Glen, Rattlesnake Point/Buffalo Crag/Bottleglass, Mount Nemo, Kelso, and Old Baldy.

We continue to work with CAs and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry to develop climbing management plans for other areas. A general principle that helps with climbing access is that the Niagara Escarpment Plan generally permits existing uses even if they are non-conforming.

Nature Reserves

The Plan contains a classification of parks and open space. The most sensitive classification is that of a Nature Reserve, to which access “will not be widely promoted [… and] activities limited to those that can further scientific understanding and education”. Many historically significant Ontario climbing areas, such as Lion’s Head, lie within Nature Reserves. Previous proposed plans explicitly disallowed climbing in Nature Reserves; we asked community input to focus on this particular aspect. The current plan does not contain a prohibition. However, climbers should be especially careful about impact in these areas, for which nature preservation is the key objective.

References

The Niagara Escarpment Commission has posted the plan at https://www.escarpment.org/LandPlanning/NEP.