This page provides further detail on the new Niagara Escarpment Plan amendments announced in our last post “Climbers in Ontario: we need your help!“. Please visit the post for instructions on how you can contact the Ministry to voice your opinions on the proposed changes to the land management plan.We cannot stress enough how important it is that all of your voices are heard. Your comments must be submitted by Oct. 31, 2016.

Please help us keep Ontario climbing open, and contact us if you have any further questions (info@ontarioaccesscoalition.com).

Q: Which climbing areas will be affected? How will they be affected?

A: Niagara Escarpment Commission (NEC) has control over all of the land in the Niagara Escarpment. This includes the climbing areas that you love, including Lion’s Head.

In the worst case, the NEC has power to shut down all climbing across the Escarpment, including on private land.

We are most worried about a potential immediate loss of climbing at Devil’s Glen, Lion’s Head, and threatened access to all other existing areas. (Devil’s Glen is not a nature reserve but the land regime there is complicated. Lion’s Head lies in a nature reserve.)

Q: How can I help keep these crags open?

A: Climbers need to act now and need to recruit all of their friends to act as well. By acting, we mean submitting your comments to the Ministry before October 31 as described in https://www.ontarioaccesscoalition.com/2016/10/11/climbers-in-ontario-we-need-your-help. Ideally, comments would be submitted in your own words, but we have provided a template letter for those of you with writer’s block. Also, please continue to practice excellent crag etiquette (OAC Code of Ethics) and respect climbing closures (OAC Crag Status document).

Q: What has the OAC done to prevent these closures?

A: The OAC has been in conversations with high-level land managers since its inception. Our conversations have been fruitful; our past access successes include the re-opening of Halfway Log Dump as well as the preservation of climbing at Old Baldy. However, the action by the NEC threatens all of our gains.

Q: Who does this concern?

A: We are asking all Ontarians and all people who visit Ontario to work with us to preserve access to Ontario climbing.

Q: Who is the NEC?

A: The Niagara Escarpment Commission (NEC) is a government agency which has the same powers and responsibilities as a municipality, including control over zoning and bylaws. This means that they control access to most of the climbing areas you love.

Q: Why is the NEC changing the land management plan?

A: They are mandated to update the plan every five years.

Q: What are the proposed amendments to the Niagara Escarpment land management plan?

A: Our two main concerns are: 1) rock climbing is not listed as a permitted use of Escarpment Natural Area; and, equally seriously, 2) the qualification “notwithstanding current climbing areas” was removed before the phrase “rock climbing activities shall not be permitted in Nature Reserves.” Our call to action describes the concerns in more detail: https://www.ontarioaccesscoalition.com/2016/10/11/climbers-in-ontario-we-need-your-help. The reference is page 89 of the proposed amendments: http://www.escarpment.org/_files/file.php?fileid=filesvMpHQjofo&filename=file_PR2_2015_Plan_Review_Discussion_Papers_Executive_Summaries_w_Amendments_FINAL.pdf.

Q: When will the changes come into effect if the proposed changes pass?

A: We don’t know. What we do know is that the deadline for submission of comments is October 31. Please submit your comments by that date.

Q: Why is the NEC targeting climbers and not other user groups?

A: Climbers are an easily-identifiable user group.