A Call to Action: GRCA Board Elections

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Do you live in the Region of Waterloo or another municipality touching the Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA)? If so, the upcoming municipal elections are an opportunity for you to  advocate for pro-climbing policies. Waterloo has the greatest number of seats on the GRCA Board, but you still have influence  even if you’re as far west as Hamilton, or as far east as Halton.

The GRCA Board Elections

The Grand River Conservation Authority controls a number of cliffs, including those at Rockwood and Elora. The OAC has been working to establish climbing access on GRCA land, but we have not been able to convince GRCA staff to work with us. However, the staff do not get the final say. The GRCA Board, which is made up mostly of elected municipal officials, is responsible for matters of governance.  While the Board usually defers  to the wishes of the staff, these elected officials are ultimately answerable to you, the voting public. So you, too, can have a say in how these cliffs are managed.

The GRCA Board has 26 members, 10 of which are appointed by Waterloo Region. Guelph and Brantford each appoint 2 members, while Hamilton and Halton each appoint 1 member. Outlying towns and counties appoint the other 10 members. 

Ontario municipal elections take place on October 24, 2022.

Members will be re-appointed next election, but you can look at who is currently on the Board for your municipality to get an idea of what’s likely to happen next term. Here is the current composition of the Board, so that you can check what your representation is.

Waterloo Regional Council candidates:

https://www.regionofwaterloo.ca/en/regional-government/2022-regional-candidate-listing.aspx

Current GRCA Board members: 

Guelph candidates:

https://vote.guelph.ca/candidates/registered-candidates/

Current GRCA Board members: 

  • Bob Bell (not seeking re-election)
  • Cathy Downer (cathy.downer@guelph.ca)

Brantford candidates:

https://brantfordvotes.brantford.ca/en/candidates/candidates.aspx

Current GRCA Board members:

Hamilton candidates:

https://www.hamilton.ca/municipal-election/election-information/certified-candidates

Current GRCA Board member:

Halton local elections links (choose your local municipality):

https://www.halton.ca/The-Region/Regional-Council-and-Committees/Municipal-Elections

Current GRCA Board member:

The full list of GRCA Board members is available at https://www.grandriver.ca/en/who-we-are/GRCA-Board-and-Administration.aspx.

What can I do?

This is a once-in-4-years opportunity for you, as a climber, to open discussions with your candidates for elected office as they seek election or re-election. Turnout is often low in municipal elections and the number of voters is small, so if you live in the right city you have a disproportionately valuable chance to gain the attention of your elected officials.  Let them know that open access to our public lands is an issue that matters to you!

Here are some suggested points you can discuss with your candidates for Regional Council (Waterloo Region) or for your municipal councils:

  • Are you engaged with what goes on with the Grand River Conservation Authority? Have you served on the GRCA Board?
  • Rock climbing is a recreational activity that is strongly supported by our neighbours at Conservation Halton and appears in many of their promotional materials. Yet, next door, we are unable to legally climb on GRCA land. Why is that?
  • Did you know that rock climbers are a responsible and fast-growing user group that contribute substantially to the local economy? 
  • Rockwood is a unique climbing area in Southern Ontario, with a type of rock that is found nowhere else nearby. We have had Olympic and World Cup downhill skiers whose home club is Chicopee in Kitchener. Imagine if we had an Olympic climbing champion who started climbing in Ontario!

We encourage you to politely email your candidates, and identify yourself as a climber and a voter in your local municipality. We’d be very interested in learning about anything you find out from your local candidates! If you have information to share after following up with your campaigning candidates, please reach out to patrick.lam@ontarioallianceofclimbers.ca.

Crag Updates, Spring 2022

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Here’s a brief rundown on Crag Updates for Spring 2022.

Halton Crags

Bookings are here to stay for the foreseeable future. However, Halton allows climbers to book back-to-back slots, giving you more time to enjoy the crag.

Turtle Crag

Good news: The new booking system is working well, and our relationship with landowners has improved! For a link to the reservation page and the Turtle Crag Code Of Conduct, click here.

Great work, everyone, and continue to enjoy the space responsibly.

Hamilton

We need your help! We seek a team to help with advocacy and access in the Hamilton area. Please get in touch with us about volunteer opportunities. Contact Us!

Rockwood

Currently, no change – there is no climbing permitted at Rockwood. The stakeholders have no interest in allowing climbing at this time.

Campden

The Niagara Conservation Authority is still undergoing an ecological assessment of the cliff in order to protect the bat population.  Because of this Campden is still closed for climbing, but we remain in constant contact with the NCA.

Cow Crag

We have published parking and access guidelines – click here to see the latest.

Devil’s Glen

The situation is ongoing. For the latest news and new parking guidelines, click here.

Metcalfe

We have porta-potties again this season (Yay!). The porta-potties are a collaboration between Arc’teryx and the OAC. The OAC is also hard at work with a parking expansion project. We will keep you posted on developments.

Lion’s Head

Paid parking continues to be enforced. For tips and best practices for a fun day at Lion’s Head, click here.

The Nooks, Sudbury (*new guidebook)

The Nooks is one of Ontario’s newest bouldering areas, featuring over 150 problems. You can purchase a new The Nooks Guidebook here. This is a newly developed area, where special care is required to minimize climber impact: stay on the trails, and no camping.

If you have any news or questions about your favourite crag, contact us!

Have Fun!

Devil’s Glen Update

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Let’s talk about what’s going on at Devil’s Glen.

As you may be aware, through early 2022, our members began reporting vandalism and mischief at Devil’s Glen. From there, things seemed to escalate, and we have  continued to share updates via our website and on Social Media.

If we had to sum up the last few months in a few wordsessentially, the climbers at Devil’s Glen are being bullied by anti-climbing mischief. 

We currently have not yet gathered conclusive proof about who is causing the trouble, and we do not know their motivations. However, we believe that the people responsible are also reading these posts. With that in mind, the OAC is exercising discretion about what tactics we may be pursuing to address this serious issue. We ask that our members be similarly discreet.

While the events are ongoing, there have been some developments.

The OAC has been in ongoing communication with land managers and the OPP on this matter, and the discussions have been positive. This matter is serious, and efforts are underway.

Devil’s Glen is on public land  and we understand that Ontario Parks is happy to have climbers enjoy the space.

So what can climbers do?

Copied from our April news article:

  • Do not engage with individuals who approach you while parking/leaving/arriving at your vehicle unless they can provide proof of OPP, By-law or similar credentials.
  • Do not engage if you are approached/questioned by other park users unless that individual can provide proof of Ontario Parks, MNR or similar credentials.
  • Do not leave valuables in your car while climbing.
  • Keep your personal belongings near you at all times.
  • Be sure to assess the bolts & anchors on each climb before & during climbing.
  • Take extra caution to assess the climbing up to the first bolt & use a stick clip if necessary to protect the moves to the first available bolt.
  • Continue to be great climbing ambassadors, respecting the space and fellow park users when out at the crag.
  • In the event of an emergency, call 911.
  • The non-emergency OPP telephone number is 1-888-310-1122.
  • Please share with the OAC any information you may have related to this ongoing situation.

Please Report further incidents

We continue to encourage all climbers to report any suspicious activity to us. Contact us here.
If you are approached aggressively by anyone in the park or surrounding area, or if you experience theft or damage to your property, please call the police.
In the event of an emergency, call 911.
The non-emergency OPP line is 1-888-310-1122.

What the OAC is doing

We are often asked what efforts are underway to remedy this situation.

As this is ongoing, we prefer not to discuss our plans publicly — but rest assured, this is a high-priority task for us, and we are working with agencies assisting us in solving this.

We will keep you posted on developments.

The Silver Lining

When faced with challenges, we try to find a silver lining.

From the beginning, climbers who’ve visited the crag and experienced this nuisance have taken the high road.

Everyone has handled it like champs and demonstrated respect and care for the space. (Thanks for the clean-up efforts, gang!)

As a community, we are working to find solutions through dialogue and long-term solutions, and this has not gone unnoticed by the various agencies we work with. (Thanks to everyone—go team!)

Parking and Access

New parking restrictions exist on the side of Concession 10 (by Devil’s Glen) to accommodate local farmers.

Climbers are still encouraged to park on Concession 10, but No-Parking signs will prohibit parking for the first 175 metres on the east side of the road, and the first 50 metres on the west side, and will be enforced by Bylaw.

We appreciate your understanding in this matter.

Enjoy the crag responsibly.

Devil's Glen Crag - Parking and Access

Cow Crag Update, June 2022

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Outlined below are our current guidelines for accessing Cow Crag.

There are ongoing discussions regarding a dispute about property boundaries. In the meantime, the direct access trail (blue line) is CLOSED as it runs through private property.

Currently, access is via the clear-cut trail (purple line). This route is less convenient and a little longer at about one kilometre, and we appreciate your understanding.

When parking, ensure you respect the No Parking signs at the turnaround – cars which are parked illegally here cause problems for tractors and larger vehicles using the turnaround circle.  Additionally, make sure to park on the shoulder, ensuring that your tires are completely off the road.

Discussions to sort out the boundaries are ongoing, and we will keep you posted on developments.
If you experience issues or have information to share, please contact us.

Cow Crag Access and Parking

Devil’s Glen Parking Update

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The Clearview Township Council is placing restrictions on parking on the side of Concession 10 (by Devil’s Glen) in order to accommodate local farmers. Climbers are still encouraged to park on Concession 10, but no-parking signs will prohibit parking for the first 175 metres on the east side of the road as well as the first 50 metres on the west side, and will be enforced by Bylaw.

This change is in direct response to concerns from local farmers, who have been unable to pass through this section of Concession 10 with farm equipment due to cars parked on both sides of the road. The OAC is supportive of this change as it presents a good compromise for climbers & farmers in the area! Again, please ensure you do not leave any valuables in your parked car, and enjoy the crag responsibly.

Community Safety Alert: Devil’s Glen

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The OAC has been monitoring escalating mischief in Devil’s Glen Provincial Park & adjacent Ministry of Natural Resources (MNR) land. Climbers should take caution and:

  • Do not engage if you are approached by individuals while parking/leaving/arriving at your vehicle unless they can provide proof of OPP, By-law or similar credentials
  • Do not engage if you are approached/questioned by other park users unless that individual is able to provide proof of Ontario Parks, MNR or similar credentials
  • Do not leave valuables in your car while climbing
  • Keep your personal belongings near you at all times
  • Be sure to assess the bolts & anchors on each climb before & during climbing
  • Take extra caution to assess the climbing up to the first bolt & use a stick clip if necessary to protect the moves to the first available bolt
  • Continue to be great climbing ambassadors, respecting the space and fellow park users when out at the crag
  • In the event of an emergency, call 911 
  • The non-emergency OPP telephone number is: 1-888-310-1122
  • Please share any information with the OAC that may be related to this ongoing situation

Over the winter, the OAC became aware that a party had filled the gully descent to Devil’s Glen with deadfall collected from the area. As a result, climbers organized a clean up to remove the deadfall from the gully. This happened again a short time later.

After clearing the gully for the second time, the team went out for a midweek site visit and noted that the perpetrator(s) had returned and filled the gully for a third time. The volunteers left their belongings at the top of the gully while they worked to clear it. When the team returned to the top of the gully, they noted one of the volunteer’s backpacks had been stolen.

The volunteers searched the park for the thief and missing bag. They eventually found the bag approximately 200 feet away; it had been thrown into the forest on the section of trail east of the approach back to Highway 124. After finding the bag, the volunteers hiked back out to the highway and walked along the 124, visiting each house in an attempt to talk to locals and see if they had witnessed any suspicious activity. The volunteers noted fresh footsteps in the snow leading out of the park and east along highway 124. The first homeowner did not appear to be home. As they stepped onto the driveway of the second home, they were immediately greeted by a woman screaming at them “You’re trespassing, get off my property”. 

Unfortunately, the theft was not resolved. The volunteers did not opt to call the police at the time as they were unclear if it would be considered theft after the bag had been found.

Weeks later, after the wintery weather had cleared, the volunteers returned on a Saturday to find the gully had once again been filled. The team removed the brush again, and returned for a site visit on Wednesday. To no surprise, the gully had been filled again, but volunteers did not have time to remove the brush during this site check. Upon leaving the area, a volunteer drove along 124 and saw a homeowner standing in their driveway, filming him as he drove by.

On April 12th, climbers visited Devil’s Glen once again in hopes of enjoying a few routes during the nice weather before clearing the brush from the gully. However, when they reached the cliff they found the first bolt had been chopped off several routes spanning the MNR & Ontario Park boundary. On six routes, the first hanger was removed and the bolts had been chopped off with an angle grinder. In our assessment the culprit(s) appears to have done this work with a ladder from the ground up. Therefore, it is unlikely the responsible party has any climbing knowledge. Affected routes include: 

  • Unnamed unclimbed project (10 metres left of Wave)
  • Outlier
  • Wave of the Future (open, unclimbed project)
  • Hyperion
  • Face that launched a thousand sighs
  • Morning Star (first two bolts affected)

Upon leaving Devil’s Glen, the climbers noted freshly scribed “F U” written in the gravel at the trailhead at Highway 124.

We feel this is an escalation of anti-climbing mischief likely perpetrated by the same party responsible for filling the gully, stealing the volunteer’s bag and disrupting at least 5 tonnes of natural deadfall. These recent developments also confirm the OAC’s suspicion that the responsible party is stalking/monitoring climbers during their visits.

The OAC reminds climbers that climbing access at Devil’s Glen continues to be tolerated by Ontario Parks as a permitted historical use. The Ontario Alliance of Climbers meets regularly with Ontario Parks staff representing the entire region including Devil’s Glen to maintain an open line of communication. The access status at Devil’s Glen has not changed.

The OAC has notified Ontario Parks & the Ontario Provincial Police of these concerning events.

We encourage all climbers to report any suspicious activity to us & if you are approached aggressively by anyone in the park or surrounding area, or experience a theft or damage to your property, please call the police. 

In the event of an emergency, call 911. 

The non-emergency OPP line is: 1-888-310-1122.

We will continue to monitor the situation and update the community as needed.

Ontario Crags Calendar 2022

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Monika Widjaja-Tam on ‘Safety Dance’ at The Swamp Photo by William Tam   @willtam85

Fresh off the presses – the 2022 Ontario Crags Calendar has arrived! Featuring local climbers shot by local photographers, the OAC calendar is a tribute to everything Ontario climbing has to offer.  With a mix of climbers, crags, and disciplines featured, this our 11th edition and we’re excited to hang it on our walls!

Calendars are $20, plus $5 for shipping via Canada Post*.  All proceeds from calendar sales go toward promoting, advocating for, and maintaining open access all across the province.

Get your copy now before they sell out!  You can also find copies for sale at the following Ontario locations:

Don’t see your gym listed?  Have them contact jessica.best@ontarioallianceofclimbers.ca if they’re interested in selling copies!

NOTE: Online sales have currently sold out, please pick up your copy at one of our partnering gyms/vendors!

2021 OAC Survey

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The 2021 OAC Survey is available now! This survey helps inform us of community priorities for our advocacy initiatives, and takes only 15 minutes to complete.

We have added some new & important questions this year to help us better understand your experiences out at the crag. All entrants will be entered into a draw — there are two $50 MEC gift cards to be won! The submission deadline is December 21st, after which we’ll announce winners on our social media.

Click here to fill yours out now!

Submit your Ontario climbing photos for the 2022 Calendar NOW!

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It’s that time of year again!  Our call for photo submissions for the 2022 OAC Ontario Crags Calendar is now OPEN!!

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, seasons, and climbers as possible — ICE, SPORT, TRAD and BOULDERING are all honoured here.  Let’s celebrate the diversity of our province and our community!

Valid photo submissions must have LANDSCAPE orientation (i.e. horizontal), and be of climbers at Ontario crags only (of course!).  In order to meet print standards, full size images must be clear and at least 8.5″x11″ at 300 dpi.
Submissions do not need to be dated from this year, but they DO need to showcase your love for Ontario climbing.  So make the most of this tail end of the season, or take some time to venture down memory lane and rediscover some forgotten gems!

The Crags Calendar helps us raise awareness and funds in support of Ontario access.  Please consider donating a photo!  Send your best shots to submissions@ontarioallianceofclimbers.ca by SATURDAY, OCTOBER 16TH for a chance to be featured.  Chosen entrants will receive a free copy of the calendar, credit complete with name and website, and a little slice of local fame!

Please see additional rules of submission here: