Land Owner Policies in Ontario

Documents

Did you know that Groundspeak maintains a wiki page with Ontario’s various geocaching policies in one place? If you’re hiding a geocache, it’s a good idea to check this page to make sure you are aware of (and following) the various policies that pertain to our game.

Some organizations would rather that we didn’t hide our game pieces on their property. For example, Canada Post could consider this mail tampering and that’s a Federal Offense. Understandably so, as while you may find it innocent looking to be climbing under a mailbox for a nano someone who’s had their credit card poached in the mail would see it differently.

Other organizations have more acceptance of geocaching, usually through discussions with local geocaching groups like the Ontario Geocaching Association or Central Ontario Geocachers. Conservation Halton allows geocaching but restricts placements in some sensitive areas. Hamilton Conservation Authority asks that geocaches are removed after 12 months.

Playing within the rules keeps land owners looking at geocachers as a net positive for the area they manage – Parks Canada actively promotes geocaching tourism on their lands. Trying to stay below the radar, or pretending the land owner does not exist cast’s a negative light on our hobby – which leads to more bans.

You should always check the Ontario Wiki - https://wiki.groundspeak.com/display/GEO/Ontario

If the land manager is listed on the Wiki, well follow the link and follow the process to get your permit, if needed. If the land manager is NOT on the Wiki, you are still required to find out who that is and obtain permission from them. Also, there is a link on the Wiki if you find a policy Groundspeak doesn’t have listed, you can inform them of it and keep the land managers positive about geocachers visiting their properties.

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Bruce Trail Conservacy Banning Geocaches?

Avernar on the Bruce Trail
Today there has been a mass-archiving/disabling of geocaches along the Bruce Trail near Orangeville. Normally this wouldn’t be something to write up an article on a geocaching site, but there is an interesting twist to the story. TheCarterFamily has removed several geocaches placed along the trail, with log entries that it was at the request of the Bruce Trail Conservacy. Here’s a couple of the caches that have been disabled:

On GC1202G Elbow:

I’ve been asked by the Bruce trail to remove all my caches on the Bruce Trails. If anyone is in this area can you pick up the cache. Might be a while before I can get to this one.

On GC117QV Hockley Valley Book Exchange

I’ve been asked by the Bruce trail to remove all my caches on the Bruce Trails.

Now that you’ve got your eyebrows up, I do have to mention a few things. First off, Groundspeak isn’t acting here – it’s the cache owner pulling their caches. Also, this is at the moment localized to Orangeville/Hockley Valley – this may be just the Caledon Bruce Trail Club or Dufferin Highlands Bruce Trail clubs that are pursuing this course of action. Finally, I do need to mention that as far as Groundspeak has been concerned in the past, it’s the property owner who holds the authority here, not a trail association. Hockley Valley Book Exchange, for example, is on Ontario Parks property, not Bruce Trail property. While the Conservacy does hold large tracts of land along the trail, they don’t own all of it so a blanket ban on caches along the Bruce Trail is not exactly an automatic thing.

The Bruce Trail is one of the most popular geocaching destinations in southern Ontario. There’s even a recurring event cache that has a group of cachers hiking the entire length of the trail. To lose caching on that 800+km long trail (with at least that many caches along it) would certainly hurt geocaching around here, but don’t panic just yet. This person who contacted TheCarterFamily may not even be an official with the Bruce Trail – that sort of thing has already happened on other trail systems where a muggle or geo-hater pretends to be an official and sends out cease-and-decist type emails.

When I’ve had discussions with the Bruce Trail Conservacy they were actually quite positive about geocaches along their trail. There are actually several promotions that the club has been using to encourage trail use, including a geocaching like “spot the heritage tree” challenge and side trail quests with prizes where hikers hike along looking for signs with numbers on them.

When in doubt, contact your local reviewer for information. Forward the land-owner’s email to your reviewer so they can verify the validity of the claim and also to update listing guidelines in the area if a change has, in fact, occurred.

[ Bruce Trail Conservacy ]

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Ministry of Transportation Bans Geocaches – In BC

Here’s a disturbing new development for geocaching in Canada. The Ministry of Transportation has banned geocaching on their property. That’s all highways, roads, rest stops, guardrails and more.  Anything posted within 100 metres of a road, or MoT structure is going to be declined by the reviewers for the time being. This one’s going to affect a LOT of geocaches in British Columbia.

From the Groundspeak Forums, cachers who have caches placed within 100M get the following reviewer note:

Due to a recent complaint by the British Columbia Ministry of Transportation, Groundspeak has asked that no roadside geocaches be published at this time. This means no caches by a highway, road, lane, pullout, intersection, traffic circle, median, highway rest stop, boulevard or any land or equipment that may be remotely considered owned or maintained by the Ministry of Transportation. There is a huge grey area here as the Ministry of Transportation has not yet told Groundspeak exactly which land they consider their right of way. Because of this, we must err on the side of caution.

This is not to say that your cache can never be published. The people at Groundspeak headquarters are working with the Ministry of Transportation to hopefully bring this debate to a satisfactory conclusion for everyone involved. I understand your frustration but please be advised that this is out of the reviewer’s control. Everyone concerned is frustrated.

You have the option to move your cache to another area well away from any road or you may wait until the matter is settled. If you choose to wait, be advised that it is the government we’re dealing with and there may not be any settlement for a very long time.

I’m temporarily disabling your cache to give you the option to move far from any road. If you do move it, please feel free to click the enable link by the top right corner of the cache page to submit your cache to the reviewer’s queue once again.

Now the argument could be made that micros along roadways aren’t the top of the quality scale but this does affect more than the roadside power trails. 100 metres extends a fair amount into most parks and private properties too. This wipes out the concept of hiding a cache on your own property if you live in a typical suburban lot, as your entire property is usually within 100 metres of the road in front of your house. The loss of the “highway rest stop” cache is also a painful one as many geocachers will use the rest stops with caches to break up a long trip.

The BC reviewers are working with the Ministry of Transportation to clear up exactly where to draw the boundary lines and such, and perhaps even repeal this new restriction but for now, be warned that since it’s the Government they are dealing with, this could take a while (see: Ontario Parks). So far, this is a Groundspeak restriction – no word on if they have contacted other listing sites just yet.

Here’s hoping the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario doesn’t send any similar messages to Groundspeak. For now, watch the thread on the Groundspeak Forums, or perhaps the British Columbia Geocaching Association for developments.

[ GC Forum Thread ] [ BCGA ]

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Rouge Park to become National Park

According to the CBC, Stephen Harper’s throne speech on Friday included a part about finally making the rumours of Rouge Park a reality. Rouge Park is set to become Canada’s first “Urban National Park” as part of Parks Canada’s 100 year anniversary.

The document said:

“In this, the 100th anniversary year of our national parks system, our government will create significant new protected areas. It will work with provincial, regional, municipal, aboriginal and community stakeholders toward establishing an urban national park in the Rouge Valley of eastern Toronto,”

So, for the geocaching part of the story – if you have a geocache in the Park, you may want to verify that it meets Parks Canada’s geocaching policy guidelines if you want it to stay in that park.

[ CBC ] [ Parks Canada ] [ Parks Canada Geocaching Policy ]

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Parks Canada – Geocaching Event in Ontario – July 16, 2011

Here’s an interesting Head’s Up from Greywynd. Parks Canada is planning a Geocaching event along the Trent-Severn waterway on July 16. We don’t have much details at this point, other than a “mark the date”. It’s great to see some Parks Canada love for Central Ontario after the geocaching love seen in the Atlantic Provinces (Fundy NP, Louisbourg NP, Cape Breton Highlands NP) and more recently British Colombia (Gulf Islands NP) has been getting some official Parks Canada geocache support.  Oh, and this one could be featuring the Passport idea where you visit caches, get stamps and earn a geocoin for your efforts too.

So, if you can be in the Peterborough area on July 16, make a point to come on out and show Parks Canada that we love caching in Ontario’s National Parks too.

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Rouge Park – Trails Master Plan Community Meeting This Monday

Rouge ParkIf you’re a geocacher on the east side of the City, you might want to take a look at what’s going on at the large natural park over there. There’s change coming, and it will potentially have an impact on geocaching in the park.

Rouge Park, which is home to many geocaches is creating a draft Trails Plan. Now is the time to see what’s going on and provide any input toward the Park’s Trails Master Plan.

If you’re interested, you should visit the community public meeting this Monday, March 7 at the Markham Museum (in the Transportation Room).

The event starts with an open house from 5:00 to 6:30, followed by a presentation at 6:30 and a workshop at 7:00.

From the Master Plan release (PDF):

The Rouge Park Alliance is in the process of developing a Trails Master Plan (Plan) for Rouge Park. This will be the second public meeting to consult with the public and key stakeholders about the Plan.  As a result of the comments received from the First Public Meeting, additional investigation and evaluation were conducted with regards to the Plan. The Rouge Park Study Area is shown below. This meeting will present the visions, principles and the draft Trails Plan for review and input. Rouge Park staff and members of the consulting project team will be on hand to answer questions and receive comments and suggestions.

If you place geocaches on those trails, you are strongly recommended to attend that meeting!

[ Rouge Park ] [ Trails Master Plan ]

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Parks Canada adding GPS activities

Here’s an interesting CBC article that I spotted today, detailing how Parks Canada is planning to add GPS to the activities available at some of the properties. The activities will focus more on interactive exhibit type things – my first thought was perhaps Wherigo but instead they will be using a product called Explora. It should be noted that Parks Canada is very geocacher friendly over the last few years. Fundy National Park hosts a geocaching challenge, and geocaches were recently launched at Fort Louisbourg.  Parks Canada has also reached out to cachers on the west coast to setup an official geocaching program at Gulf Islands National Park.

As Parks Canada is celebrating their 100 year anniversary, it’s great to see them exploring GPS related activities.

[ CBC.ca – Parks Canada GPS Article ]

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