It’s been a week of hope and change as Ontario prepares to loosen certain COVID-19 restrictions. Collectively we’ve worked hard to flatten the curve, enduring weeks of difficult social distancing measures and uncertainty about the future. We’re now at a point where the province is ready to slowly begin the process of reopening, which is an exciting milestone. What does this mean for Ontario climbers?
Crown Land may officially be accessed for recreational activity, including rock climbing where access is secure or tolerated. However, visitors must continue to respect all physical distancing recommendations. Visitors must maintain a distance of 2 metres from other people, avoid gathering in groups of more than 5, and follow local restrictions. Please keep in mind that some smaller communities, including Grey County, have issued official requests that non-residents or seasonal visitors avoid visiting. Provincial enforcement officers continue to patrol Crown Land, which is managed by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. You may be questioned regarding non-essential travel. Please strongly consider not traveling to access Crown Land if you are not a local resident.
Provincial Parks and Conservation Reserves have opened for public access, but permitted activities in these spaces are still limited to walking, hiking, cycling, and birdwatching. Climbing is not yet permitted.
Conservation Areas are independently managed by their respective Conservation Authorities. Please check with the appropriate Conservation Authority to determine if they have opened to the public, and what their restrictions are. Conservation Halton plans to open Mount Nemo and Rattlesnake Point in the coming week via a reservation system for all visitors, but climbing is not yet a permitted activity. Climbing at the Niagara Glen is also not yet permitted.
We understand that things are moving quickly and it can be confusing to know where climbing is permitted. Please adhere to all local guidelines. Undertake research on the areas you wish to climb at before planning your trip to ensure they are open for climbing. Respect requests for visitors to stay away from vulnerable communities. Be patient and wait for local crags to open up again. If ever in doubt, please err on the side of caution and avoid putting access at risk.
We’re just as eager as you to be able to get out on real rock, but we must remember that COVID-19 poses a serious threat to health and well-being, and that the loosening of restrictions does not mean that the threat is gone. Let’s do our best to continue preventing community transmission while enjoying the outdoors in order to maintain access!
With that in mind, we’ve established a list of guidelines to help you choose whether to climb, and if you climb, how to do so responsibly. Please read them, and do your best to stay informed. Be safe, be patient, and be considerate!