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Registration for 2017 Beaver Valley Climbing Festival now open!

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

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

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.

OAC 2017 Strategic Plan

We’re pleased to publish our strategic plan, which will guide our efforts in the next few years. The strategic plan includes goals of advocating for access to climbing areas; strengthening community involvement and outreach; and promoting environmental stewardship.

Please find our plan at the following page:

https://www.ontarioaccesscoalition.com/about/oac-strategic-plan-february-2017/

As always, we welcome new volunteers to help us achieve our goals. Please get in touch with us using the contact link on the website or by emailing info@ontarioaccesscoalition.com.

Beta for 2017 Niagara Glen Parking

The Niagara Parks Commission has announced its parking fees for 2017. These fees apply to all parks users arriving by car.

Boulderers who are climbing at the Niagara Glen need a climbing permit, which can be obtained at the Butterfly Conservatory. This climbing permit costs $20 per year. Holders of a climbing permit also receive an annual parking permit (which would normally cost $55 for the year or $25 for a daily pass), which is valid for two license plates.

We encourage climbers to demonstrate stewardship of this unique natural area and to apply Leave No Trace principles at the crag. The Ontario Access Coalition is supporting a volunteer-led Glen cleanup on June 3rd. More details about the cleanup will be coming tomorrow.

Niagara Parks has been a valued partner of the Ontario Access Coalition; our strong relationship has helped keep the Glen open despite access challenges caused by the its popularity.

The press release from Niagara Parks, reproduced below, contains the complete details about parking.

Niagara Parks Offers Daily and Year-Round Parking Pass Options

Niagara Falls, ON – The Niagara Parks Commission is pleased to announce several parking options, including both annual and daily parking pass programs, which are designed to enhance the overall visitor experience and provide greater value when visiting Niagara Parks.

A Niagara Parks’ annual parking pass can be used to enjoy unlimited parking at selected lots throughout Niagara Parks for a one-time fee of $55 (tax included)*. For frequent visitors, venue specific annual passes have also been created for the Niagara Parks’ Floral Showhouse, the Botanical Gardens/Butterfly Conservatory and for the Niagara Glen Nature Centre.

New this year, all annual parking passes will allow for up to two vehicles (two licence plate numbers) to be registered by an annual pass holder. Passes can be purchased online or obtained at each pay and display station, as well as at Niagara Parks’ Rapidsview Licensing Office and Falls Parking Lot.

Daily passes can also be purchased at any paid parking lot or pay and display station within the Park*. For more information on parking options or to purchase your annual pass online, please visit: www.niagaraparks.com/parking, or call: (905) 356-0943. (*see attached Fact Sheet for further details on paid parking locations and offerings).

2017 NIAGARA PARKS PARKING PASS OPTIONS

Type of Pass Cost (Tax Included)
Annual Niagara Parks Parking Pass: $55.00
Annual Floral Showhouse Parking Pass: $30.00
Annual Niagara Glen Parking Pass, or
Seasonal parking pass (May to October): $15.00
Annual Botanical Gardens and Butterfly Conservatory Parking Pass: $15.00
All Day Niagara Parks Parking Pass: $25.00

The Niagara Parks Commission is committed to a vision of Ontario’s Niagara Parks as one that Preserves a rich heritage, Conserves natural wonders, and Inspires people world-wide. Founded in 1885, The Niagara Parks Commission is an Operational Enterprise Agency of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport. Its mission is to protect the natural and cultural heritage along the Niagara River for the enjoyment of visitors while maintaining financial self-sufficiency.

Niagara Parks Paid Parking Facilities
Niagara Parks maintains over 70 parking areas, 13 of which are paid parking lots:

Niagara Glen – Stairways lead to 4 km (2.5 miles) of paths that wind through a pristine pocket of Carolinian Forest, past boulders left behind as the Falls eroded through the area thousands of years ago. Metered parking will be available from May to October, as well as annual parking passes. Bouldering permit holders can present their permit at the Niagara Glen Nature Centre (or the Butterfly Conservatory) to receive an annual parking pass.

Seeking Halfway Log Dump Site Hosts for 2017

Are you a boulderer who is looking for a way to help the OAC keep Ontario bouldering areas open? This is your chance to help! Enjoy time at one of Ontario’s premier bouldering crags while giving back to the community by becoming a site host at Halfway Log Dump!

Tyler Janzen bouldering, photo: Anne Tong

Tyler Janzen bouldering, photo: Anne Tong.

The OAC and Bruce Peninsula National Park are looking for help from the climbing community in the form of volunteer weekend Site Hosts. Site Hosts, like Camp Hosts, act as stewards and caretakers for the area. The Site Host program has been a huge success since its launch in 2010. The OAC and the Park are once again looking again for volunteers for 2017. If you would like to help access efforts and become a Site Host for a weekend, please fill out the form below:

OAC 2017 site host application form

What does a Site Host do?

I think of Site Hosts as being like the friendly guy/girl at the gym. Site hosts act as ambassadors for Halfway Log Dump. They ensure everyone is having a good time, communicate the rules that are in place, point out the endangered Lakeside Daisy (“see it right over there?”), explain bouldering to curious tourists and, of course, know all the beta on every problem ;). These honoured volunteers will receive free camping! (as available), and pre-paid parking at the park. This is all courtesy of Bruce Peninsula National Park as a thanks to volunteers.

Who makes a good site host?

If you like to boulder outside, can get yourself to the Bruce Peninsula, and are interested in helping maintain climbing access in Ontario, you will be a great site host! Even if you’re not an outdoor boulderer, you can still be a site host—one year, we had a host on crutches!

I would like to help, but I have never been to Halfway Log Dump. Can I still volunteer as a site host?

It might be your first visit or your 101st visit to Halfway Log Dump. This honour is still open to you. We can tell you what you need to know. It’s not hard. You can put it on your resume and land that promotion you’ve been after.

For an up-to date look at Halfway, Joe Ho’s beautiful new guidebook is available for purchase at your local climbing gym, MEC store, or online through the Ontario Climbing Guidebook Shop.

Ontario Climbing interview about Joe Ho guidebook
Buy Joe Ho guidebook through Ontario Climbing Shop

An older guide for Halfway Log Dump is also available for free from the OAC. If you download this guide we hope that you will take the time to become an OAC member, or make a donation if you are already a member.

HWLD Interpretive Bouldering guidebook

Yeah, but, if I go there I want to focus on climbing

The time commitment of site hosts at the boulders is minimal and can easily be incorporated into a regular day at the crag. You will be walking by other boulderers and they will be walking by you. In talking to other boulderers, you may discover that they know something you don’t. You could learn about the latest lines, new beta, local weather, best dining, local plants, or a shortcut home.

A big thanks to those of you who apply!

Annual OAC Survey now open for 2016

Please help the OAC by telling us about your climbing from last year. The survey is our key source of information about climber demographics and spending. This information improves our bargaining position when we negotiate with land managers.

https://survey.ontarioaccesscoalition.com/2016

We will hold a drawing on May 2 for a $50 MEC gift certificate. Thank you for your support!

2017 Garlic Mustard Pull

2017 Garlic Mustard Pull Banner

Help us preserve the environment and fight invasive species at one of Ontario’s most popular crags, Rattlesnake Point. Join us at the OAC’s annual weed pull and garbage pickup, held in conjunction with Conservation Halton!

All volunteers receive:

  • FREE entry to Rattlesnake Point
  • BBQ lunch
  • Entry for epic prize giveaways
  • Cliffs available all afternoon

Sign up at our Facebook event!

Want to spread the word? Please post the flier where other climbers might see it: 2017 Garlic Mustard Pull Flyer

We need your help! Beaver Valley Climbing Festival 2017 volunteers

It’s not too soon to think about summer and outdoor rock climbing! We are looking for your help in making the 2017 Beaver Valley Climbing Festival happen.

Volunteers will receive free stay, food, and admiration from all. We are looking for people to help organize the event as well as day-of volunteers.

Please send us email at info@ontarioaccesscoalition.com to help us bring together the community.

Thanks to the Ontario climbing community: plan amendments win

Late last year, we asked climbers to write to the Niagara Escarpment Commission about potential changes to the Niagara Escarpment Plan which would severely restrict climbing access. Thanks for all your support during the recent Niagara Escarpment Plan consultation. We believe that it made a difference in the final Staff Recommendations, which came out in December. Here’s an update about the Plan amendment process.

This January, the OAC confirmed that the Proposed Plan includes amendments clarifying that climbing may continue in areas where there is a history of climbing. It should be noted that climbing may continue. It is thus vitally important that climbers, like all user groups, continue to act responsibly.

Climbing will continue to be allowed in a Nature Reserve where it is an existing use, and is generally allowed outside of Nature Reserves, subject to management plans.

This represents a significant win for the climbing community and stands as an example of what we can accomplish when we come together as a community. While this recommendation is less than we asked for, it is something that we can live with. We at the OAC currently believe that this will not affect climbing at some of our highest-profile areas like Lion’s Head. We will continue to advocate for climbing access throughout Ontario. The OAC will be calling on the climbing community shortly in an effort to address long-held climbing closures in Provincial Parks.

The staff report specifically mention your advocacy:

“Numerous comments received from individuals and rock climbing organizations concerned that proposed policies will restrict opportunities for rock climbing which is a tourism opportunity. They state that there is no indication that the activity causes environmental harm. They propose that rock climbing be allowed to continue where a history of climbing activity has taken place and support preparation of climbing management plans.”

It lists the consideration:

“Where rock climbing can be identified as an existing use as defined in the [Niagara Escarpment Plan], it may be allowed to continue in NEPOSS.”

You can find the recommendations on page 43 of the following PDF document:
http://escarpment.org/_files/file.php?fileid=fileednIjxTVCQ&filename=file_2016_12_14_15_Co_ordinated_Review_Policy_Analysis___Policy_Areas_Complete_RedactedTC.pdf

Get involved, stay informed, and climb safe.

(photo credit: Mike Penney)